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PR- 274-06
August 1, 2006


City Mobilizes In All Five Boroughs to Conserve Power and Protect New Yorkers From Heat and Humidity

Empire State and Chrysler Buildings among Numerous Private Sector Leaders Cutting Back Power to Preserve Grid

Updating New Yorkers on the Heat Emergency declaration from the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today detailed the steps City government and major private employers are taking to reduce energy consumption while urging all New Yorkers across the city to conserve energy. City agencies are continuing to mobilize to protect the well-being and safety of New Yorkers and reduce energy consumption in all five boroughs. The EOC was activated at 9:00 a.m. today to ensure that all City agencies are working to help New Yorkers beat the heat and conserve power. Several key City facilities have reduced their use of the electrical grid – six of the City’s wastewater treatment plants and Rikers Island have moved half of their energy needs to generator power. The Department of Transportation and Parks Department have also taken measures to reduce energy consumption, from running portions of the Traffic Management Center on generators to turning off decorative lighting at City landmarks. Private employers across the city have also pledged to conserve energy; the famous lights atop the Empire State Building will be extinguished tonight and tomorrow night. Additionally, summer school attendance will be optional tomorrow because of the heat wave. Both today and tomorrow’s high temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees, with the heat index reaching over 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The heat wave affects New Yorkers in all five boroughs, and that’s why the City is aggressively moving to protect New Yorkers from Tottenville to Co-Op City from this week’s oppressive heat and promote energy conservation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Hundreds of people have already tragically passed away due to the heat wave in other parts of the country, and I urge New Yorkers – especially seniors – to take the danger of high temperatures and humidity seriously. You can beat the heat by drinking plenty of water, staying out of the sun, avoiding strenuous activity, and taking advantage of City cooling centers and public pools. The City is also actively taking large energy users such as wastewater treatment plants off the grid and conserving energy at City buildings across the five boroughs to help cope with the increased demands on the electrical grid.”

City government is working to conserve energy and is starting to shed load by taking City facilities off the electrical grid across the five boroughs, in response the Mayor’s unprecedented declaration of a Heat Emergency. In addition to moving half of the energy consumption at six of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) wastewater treatment plants (located in Jamaica in Queens, Coney Island, Owls Head and Red Hook in Brooklyn, and Port Richmond and Oakwood Beach on Staten Island), and half of the energy use at the Department of Correction’s (DOC) Rikers Island facility, to generator power, other City agencies are also taking steps to significantly reduce their energy consumption.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has extinguished the necklace lights on the City’s East River bridges, and turned off the lights in the Battery Park underpass during non-rush hour times. DOT has also switched air conditioning, room lights, and traffic cameras at the Traffic Management Center to generator power. Lights have been turned off at over 25 DOT yards across the City and the DOT asphalt plant in Brooklyn. Ventilation fans in the Battery Park underpass, the 1st Avenue tunnel, and Park Avenue tunnel will be running on half power every night this week. Lighting at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Columbus Circle in Manhattan will also be extinguished. Lighting at the Whitehall terminal in Manhattan has been reduced by approximately 75 percent today, and DOT has also turned off the Staten Island Ferry sign in front of the terminal. Last night, lighting was reduced by approximately 15 percent and the Staten Island Ferry sign remained off. At the Saint George terminal in Staten Island, lights to the decorative arch will be reduced by approximately 60 percent at night and the rooftop lighting will be turned off.

The Parks Department today will turn off the decorative lights at the Coney Island Parachute Jump, Keyspan Stadium, and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. In the Bronx, 75 percent of all lights and air conditioning has been turned off at Yankee Stadium, and lighting at Henry Hudson Monument and the Victory Monument has also extinguished. In Manhattan, all decorative lighting at Washington Square Arch, Columbus Circle Monument & Fountain, and Randall’s Island Icahn Stadium has been turned off. In Staten Island, the stadium lights at McArthur Park have been extinguished. In Queens, all decorative and stadium lights have been turned off at Shea Stadium, as have the lights at the Unisphere.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS ) has reduced elevator service by 15 percent by keeping 56 elevators out of service at buildings in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. DCAS has already raised the temperature of the air conditioning systems in the 53 buildings it manages, including City Hall, Tweed Courthouse and the Municipal Building.

The Department of Education (DOE ) today announced that summer school attendance will be optional tomorrow due to the heat wave. Schools that are closed have been powered down, and open schools will power down after students leave.

Many private companies have pledged to cut back on power consumption: in the Bronx, Fordham University, the Hunts Point Meat Market, and Lincoln Hospital; in Manhattan, Rudin Management, the Durst Organization, Rockefeller Center, and various exchanges; and in Queens, Citicorp and MetLife. The Rockrose Development Corporation and Pepsi have turned the Long Island City “Pepsi-Cola” sign off. The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings will extinguish their iconic spire lights tonight and tomorrow. In addition, the following companies and organizations have pledged to conserve energy: AT&T, Verizon, Columbia University, JPMorgan Chase, Interpublic, Chanel, Staten Island University Hospital, Kaufman Astoria Studios, REBNY, Fremont Investment & Loan, Akin Gump, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, The Related Companies, CBRE, Lebhar-Friedman, Inc., Cantor Fitzgerald, and Carole Hochman.

It is especially important for residents to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening hours. New Yorkers can take the following steps to reduce their energy usage:

  • Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Only use the air conditioner when you are home. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer to have it switch on no more than a half-hour before you arrive. Residents and shop-owners should remember to close doors and windows while air conditioners are running.
  • Turn non-essential appliances off.
  • Only use appliances that have heavy electrical loads early in the morning or very late at night.

The Fire Department (FDNY ) continues to closely monitor medical calls related to heat emergencies, and will allocate additional resources as needed. Some EMS members assigned to the training academy at Fort Totten in Queens were reassigned to the field today so additional ambulances could be put on the streets to provide more care. From midnight Sunday to midnight Monday, EMS members answered 3,432 calls, including 15 emergency calls directly related to the heat – a total slightly higher than average. FDNY has also notified the 84 receiving hospitals throughout the city to be prepared for an increase in patients. New Yorkers should always remember to call 911 in the event of a heat emergency.

The City’s 383 cooling centers will be open with extended hours through Thursday, with exact hours depending on the location. The City’s cooling centers served more than 18,000 New Yorkers yesterday. The Department of Parks & Recreation will extend the operating hours of the City’s 51 outdoor pools today until 8 p.m., and is prepared to do so on any day when the temperature tops 95 degrees. The Parks Department also operates more than 14 miles of beaches, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and more than 600 spray showers throughout the five boroughs. New Yorkers can call 311 for information on City pool, beach, spray shower, and cooling center locations and hours.
The City is actively monitoring the health and well-being of its most vulnerable residents. The Department for the Aging (DFTA) continues to monitor the status of its homebound clients, in addition to extending hours at its senior centers. The Housing Authority (NYCHA) will continue to check in on its elderly residents, as well as those on life support. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has increased surveillance in hospitals to monitor for heat-related illnesses; as of today, no reports of increase in illness have been observed.
The Office of Emergency Management offers the following tips for New Yorkers to protect themselves during the heat wave:

  • New Yorkers should, whenever possible, stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Drink fluids - particularly water - even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun's peak hours - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cool down with repeated cool baths or showers.
  • Never leave children, seniors, or pets in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make a special effort to check on neighbors, especially seniors and those with special needs.
  • Report open fire hydrants by calling 311.
  • Recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses including heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
  • Heat exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, headache, weak pulse, dizziness, exhaustion, fainting, nausea or vomiting, and cold, clammy skin. Body temperature will seem normal.
  • Heat Stroke: Symptoms include flushed, hot, dry skin, weak or rapid pulse, shallow breathing, lack of sweating, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. Body temperature will be elevated, and victim should receive immediate medical attention.

New Yorkers who wish to cool off with fire hydrant water must use City-approved fire hydrant spray caps, available free of charge at local firehouses. Illegally opening a fire hydrant is wasteful and dangerous – 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.


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958


Jarrod Bernstein   (Office of Emergency Management)
(718) 422-4888

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