And although we spent much of this last winter dreaming of sunny skies, as we endured the heaviest snowfall in city history -- extremely hot weather creates its own set of problems, especially for our city's most vulnerable.
Last summer, during a 17-day heat wave in Chicago, 465 people died from heat-related causes. In Milwaukee, 85 people died. New York City generally enjoys milder summers than many other parts of the country. But excessively hot conditions in a densely populated urban environment like ours can be very dangerous for the health of our citizens.
History shows that New York City has experienced 52 major heat waves, which consist of 90 degree plus temperatures for 5 days, or more. And as recently as 1993, our city had a heat wave that lasted 10 days, culminating in three consecutive days of over 100 degree heat from July 8th through the 10th.
Hopefully we won't see anything like that this summer. But just in case, New York City's new heat emergency plan -- which we call "Beat the Heat" -- will be ready to help us keep cool. This is the most comprehensive initiative in City history to protect New Yorkers from the potentially deadly effects of a heat emergency. Our goal is to ensure that a heat emergency doesn't turn into the kind of heat disaster that hit Chicago last year.
Prepared by the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, "Beat the Heat" is a coordinated effort by 39 city and private agencies, including the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Housing Authority and the departments of Health, Aging, Youth Services and Parks. Among our private sector partners who have been given a specific role are the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the Brooklyn Union Gas Company and Con Edison.
"Beat the Heat" will help us identify and reach out to "at risk" populations. Included in this effort is the establishment of temporary "cooling centers," and the extension of operating hours at air-conditioned senior centers.
But perhaps the very best way for all of us to get through a heat emergency is to take care of each other. We know New Yorkers care about their fellow citizens. Just as was done so successfully during last winter's snow emergencies, we encourage all New Yorkers to reach out to your neighbors, especially the elderly, or homebound, because the success of this plan depends on all of us.
To receive up to the minute information on how to "Beat the Heat" this summer, we have established an 800 number to answer heat-related questions. Just dial 1-800-4-COOL-NY, that's 1-800-426-6569.
In closing, I also want to congratulate our new School Board president, William C. Thompson, Jr. I wish him every success in working with Chancellor Rudy Crew and City Hall in our efforts to provide the children of New York City with the safe schools and quality educations they deserve.
From Gracie Mansion, This is Rudy Giuliani.