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Press Release

Press Release # 025-13
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Jean Weinberg:

Health Department Urges New Yorkers to Take Precautions and Help The Vulnerable During This Week’s Extreme Heat

Use air conditioning to stay cool, drink water to avoid dehydration, check on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors

More than 80% of heat-related deaths in recent years occurred in homes without air conditioning

July 16, 2013 – The Health Department today warned New Yorkers of health risks from the dangerously hot weather forecast for this week. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, with temperatures forecast to be in the mid-90s all week with a heat index near 100 or above each day. The Health Department urges New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent serious illness that can result from the heat, especially among vulnerable individuals, such as seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental disability. If someone you know is unconscious or unresponsive, call 911 immediately.

“Everyone knows heat waves are uncomfortable, but they are also dangerous,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “With each passing day, the risk for heat stroke increases. During this extreme heat, it is important for New Yorkers to check in on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they don’t have air conditioning or live alone. Make sure they are staying hydrated and have a cool place to stay.”

From 2006 to 2012, more than 100 New Yorkers died from heat. More than 80% of heat-related deaths in recent years occurred in homes without air conditioning. In addition, excessive heat can contribute to many additional deaths for chronic disease, such as heart disease and chronic lung disease. On average, an estimated additional 100 deaths of this type occur per summer from heat waves.

New Yorkers, especially those who are elderly or medically vulnerable, are advised to use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, and drink water regularly. Those going outdoors should limit strenuous activity and avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day. New Yorkers should also check on their family, friends, and neighbors who live alone and are elderly or have chronic medical conditions, because they may be unable or unwilling to get to an air-conditioned space.

City cooling centers will remain open through Thursday to help New Yorkers stay cool. Cooling centers are public places, such as Department for the Aging (DFTA) senior centers, and New York City Housing Authority and Salvation Army community centers, where air conditioning is available. To find the cooling center closest to you and to check center hours, call 311 or search “Cooling Center Locator” at

Facts About Heat Illness

Heat illness is serious. Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. The added stress caused by heat can also aggravate heart or lung disease even without symptoms of heat illness. On average, heat waves kill more Americans than other natural disasters. The risk for getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:

  • Do not have or do not use air conditioning
  • Are age 65 or older
  • Have chronic medical or mental health conditions or a developmental disability or dementia
  • Take certain medications that can disrupt the regulation of body temperature
  • Are confined to their beds, have trouble with being mobile, or are unable to leave their homes
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Consume alcohol or illegal drugs
Call 911 immediately if you have, or someone you know has:
  • Hot, dry skin OR cold, clammy skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
Ready New York - Beat the Heat Tips:
  • Use an air conditioner if you have one.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, go to a cooler place such as an air-conditioned family’s, friend’s or neighbor’s home, store, mall, museum, or movie theater, or, visit a cooling center.
  • Check on your at-risk family, friends and neighbors often and help them get to a cool place.
  • Fans alone will not keep you cool when it is really hot outside.
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
  • Conserve energy by setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and only cooling rooms you are using when you are at home.
  • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, or plan it for the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. or in the evening. If you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are used to regular exercise, just keep in mind the symptoms of heat illness when exercising and stop or rest if any occur.
  • Bathing or showering with cool (not cold) water can be helpful for those able to do so safely.
Spray Caps & Fire Hydrants:

Opening fire hydrants without spray caps is wasteful and dangerous. Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure, which can cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities and hinder fire-fighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can also push children into oncoming traffic. Call 311 to report an open hydrant.

Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by someone 18 or over, free of charge at local firehouses.

For more information on the health effects associated with extreme heat, search “heat illness” at