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PR- 323-10
July 23, 2010


Two Hundred Cooling Centers to Open in All Five Boroughs on Saturday

Mayor Urges All New Yorkers to Check in on their Neighbors

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno and Health Department Commissioner Thomas A. Farley at the City Hall Senior Center to encourage New Yorkers to take precautions during the extreme heat forecasted for this weekend.  According to the National Weather Service, the heat index is forecast to reach the mid-90's on Saturday.  To help New Yorkers beat the heat, cooling centers will be open throughout the City. More than 190,000 New Yorkers have visited cooling centers since the summer's first heat wave on June 28th.

"Staying cool when it's this hot outside is important for every New Yorker's health, particularly for our seniors," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "I urge everyone to take common sense precautions - stay out of the sun, avoid strenuous outdoor activity, drink plenty of water, wear light-colored clothing, and only swim when a lifeguard is on duty.   I also ask that we be good neighbors and check in on people who are elderly, disabled or have other conditions that may make the heat particularly uncomfortable.  And call 311 if you need to help someone find a place to cool off in your community." 

"July has been one of the hottest months in recent memory, and so far this summer we have been fortunate to avoid any major heat-related emergencies," said Commissioner Bruno. "But the longer we have extremely hot days like this, the more dangerous it is for people at risk, and we are asking every New Yorker to take three common sense steps to stay safe during this latest heat event: look out for your own health, check in on vulnerable neighbors, and listen to your utility company's appeals for energy conservation."

"Prolonged heat is more than a discomfort," said Commissioner Farley. "For anyone who is elderly or living with a chronic health condition, a series of hot days can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke - even death. The people at greatest risk often live alone and have difficulty traveling. Fortunately, these are preventable risks. Staying in an air-conditioned place is the best protection from the heat, so check on your elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors - particularly those who live alone - and see if you can help them get to cooler places on these extremely hot days. New York City is full of air-conditioned spaces. By helping a vulnerable person find one, you may save a life."

"Air conditioning offers seniors the best protection from the heat, and we're encouraging older New Yorkers to be safe by going to one of the City's cooling centers," said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. "During the heat it is important for seniors to drink plenty of fluids, avoid exertion and keep their apartments well ventilated to avoid heat exhaustion. Seniors who feel ill or think they have signs of heat exhaustion should call 911 immediately. New Yorkers should check in on their elderly neighbors-simply knock on their door or give them a call. Seniors living alone may need help with opening windows, shopping or other minor tasks to ensure their safety."

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. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away if you have these symptoms:

  • Hot, dry skin or cold, clammy skin
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Confusion, hallucinations, disorientation

The risk of getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:

  • Are younger than five, or older than 64
  • Have chronic medical or mental health conditions
  • Take medications, which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature
  • Are confined to their beds or unable to leave their homes
  • Are overweight

If you have a medical condition or take medications, check with your physician about precautions during hot weather. Family, friends, and neighbors who are at high risk will need extra help during this period of extreme heat. Think about how you can help someone you know get to an air-conditioned place.

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 store, mall, museum, or movie theater. Or, visit a cooling center.
  • Use a fan if the air is not too hot. Fans work best at night to bring in cooler air from outside. Use a fan only when the air conditioner is on or the windows are open.
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
  • If possible, stay out of the sun. When you're in the sun, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, wear a hat to protect your face and head, and use sunscreen (at least SPF 15) to protect exposed skin.
  • 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 AM and 7 AM.
  • Be careful if you take a cold shower to stay cool - sudden temperature changes can make you feel dizzy or sick.

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.

Conserve Energy:

  • During periods of extremely hot and humid weather, electricity use rises, which can cause power disruptions.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees.
  • Use air conditioners only when you're home, and only in rooms you're using. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer that turns on no more than 30 minutes before you arrive.
  • Turn off nonessential appliances.
  • To receive free notifications about power outages affecting your neighborhood sign up for Notify NYC at

To find the cooling center closest to you, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115) or use OEM's Cooling Center Finder at For more information on coping with extreme heat, see the Ready New York: Beat the Heat guide at For more information on the health effects associated with extreme heat visit


Stu Loeser/Jason Post/Jessica Scaperotti (Mayor)   (212) 788-2958

Chris Gilbride   (Emergency Management)
(718) 422-4888

Erin Brady   (Health)
(212) 788-5290

Chris Miller   (Aging)
(212) 442-1111

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