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PR- 226-12
June 20, 2012


455 Cooling Centers Open Citywide Today, Open through Thursday Evening

Use Air Conditioning to Stay Cool, Drink Water to Avoid Dehydration, Check on Neighbors, Elderly

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno and Heath Commissioner Thomas A. Farley to encourage New Yorkers to take precautions during the extreme heat forecast for Wednesday and Thursday this week. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to reach 95 degrees with a heat index as high as 100 on Wednesday and 98 with a heat index as high as 101 degrees expected on Thursday. Air-conditioned City cooling centers will be open Wednesday and Thursday to help New Yorkers beat the heat. Cooling centers are air conditioned places, such as Department for the Aging (DFTA) senior centers, Salvation Army community centers, and public libraries that are open to the public during heat emergencies. The Mayor made the announcement at the BronxWorks Morris Senior Center, one of the City’s newest Innovative Senior Centers and a neighborhood cooling center in the Bronx. To find the cooling center closest to you, call 311 or visit

“The next two days will be very hot and possibly uncomfortable, but for many New Yorkers it can also be very dangerous,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It’s crucial that all New Yorkers take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from the heat. Stay in an air conditioned places when possible, stay hydrated, and check in on your neighbors, especially if they don’t have air conditioning, live alone, are elderly, have trouble getting around or are ill. These steps can save lives.”

“We are asking every New Yorker to take common sense steps to stay safe during this extreme heat event: look out for your own health, check in on vulnerable neighbors, and set your air conditioning thermostat to 78 degrees to keep cool while also conserving energy,” said OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno.  “And to ensure that every New Yorker has a place to stay cool, the City has opened more than 450 cooling centers – public places that are open to anyone who needs a place to take a break from the heat and cool off.”

“Prolonged heat can put you at risk for serious health consequences,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “For anyone who is elderly or living with a chronic health condition like diabetes or mental illness, a series of hot days can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke – even death. There are about 300,000 seniors living alone across the city. The best way for us to keep them safe is for all New Yorkers to check on your elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors and see if you can help them get to cooler places and make sure they’re staying hydrated.”

“Keeping cool on hot summer days is essential, and one of the best ways to do that is by drinking plenty of refreshing NYC Water,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. “Our city’s water is some of the best in the world, a fact that all New Yorkers can take pride in. To help make it even more available, our Water-On-the-Go fountains will be deployed at high-traffic locations throughout the summer—eight of which are set up today—to offer free and delicious water to anyone who needs a drink. We also want to remind New Yorkers that opening a fire hydrant without a spray cap is illegal and potentially dangerous. Improperly opened hydrants can hamper firefighting operations and harm small children. Before you cool off, stop by a local firehouse and get an approved spray cap, so you can beat the heat in the safest way possible.”

“We encourage older New Yorkers to take advantage of the over 245 senior centers that will serve as cooling centers and will be open to the public,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. “They not only provide a respite from the sun and heat, they offer nutritional, social and recreational services.  Our community partners are prepared to receive anyone who feels they need to come in out of the heat. We also ask all New Yorkers to check in on their elderly relatives, friends and neighbors often.”

“As the hottest day of the year approaches today, I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for visiting one of our many Bronx cooling centers,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “I urge all New Yorkers, especially our seniors, to take every precaution possible to avoid heat illness and beat the heat. Cooling centers open today during business hours include senior centers, libraries and community centers. Be safe and stay cool.”

New Yorkers are advised to use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, drink water at regular intervals, and limit strenuous activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day. New Yorkers are also urged 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. This year the Health Department is running radio ads about the serious risks of extreme heat and the importance of checking on neighbors, family and friends - especially those who live alone, are elderly or who do not have air conditioning - on local radio stations.

Water is crucial in extreme heat. The Department of Environmental Protection’s Water-On-the-Go program makes NYC Water easily available at outdoor locations throughout the five boroughs as an alternative to bottled water or sugar-sweetened beverages. Throughout the summer, portable NYC Water drinking fountains will be rotated between more than 20 different public plazas, parks, GrowNYC Greenmarkets, busy sidewalks, and special events around the city. This year, the Department has developed a new iPhone/iPad mobile application to help New Yorkers access the daily Water-On-the-Go program schedule. The app is free, and available for download at the iTunes Store. In addition, this summer Water-On-the-Go visitors can “Check-In” at fountains using Foursquare, and while supplies last drinkers will have the opportunity to unlock a special for a free reusable NYC Water bottle. Last summer more than 200,000 people visited Water-On-the-Go drinking fountains, along with countless dogs.

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.  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, developmental disabilities or dementia
  • Take certain medications, which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature
  • Are confined to their beds, have mobility issues, or are unable to leave their homes
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Consume alcohol or illegal drugs

Knowing the warning signs of heat stress is important. If you (or someone you know) feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water.  Call your 911 or go to the emergency room right away if you have these symptoms:

  • Hot, dry skin or cold, clammy skin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

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 a store, mall, museum, movie theater, or friend/family member’s air-conditioned home, or visit a cooling center.
  • Check on your at-risk family, friends and neighbors often and help them get to a cool place.
  • Use a fan only when the air conditioner is on or the windows are open. Fans alone will not keep you cool when it is really hot outside. Fans work best at night to bring in cooler air from 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.
  • 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 or in the evening. If you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. 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.
  • 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 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 / Evelyn Erskine   (212) 788-2958

Judith Graham Kane (OEM)   (718) 422-4888

Sam Miller (DOHMH)   (347) 396-4177

Chris Miller (DFTA)   (212) 442-1111

Chris Gilbride (DEP)   (718) 595-6600


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