Extreme Heat: Beat the Heat!

Extreme heat kills. 350 New Yorkers died prematurely last year from preventable heat illness. If you're elderly or have other health conditions like heart disease or asthma, you're at even higher risk, among other factors

Extreme heat is a serious threat in New York City, and New Yorkers need to be extra careful during hot summer months. Extreme heat means high heat and humidity with temperatures that are much higher than normal (10 degrees or more) lasting for several days. 

It is important to understand your risk to extreme heat and make a heat emergency plan that works for you and your family. 

What to Do Before Extreme Heat

Know the Signs of Heat Illness

Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises quickly, which can lead to death. Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you or someone you know has the following symptoms

  • Hot, dry skin
  • Confusion, hallucinations, and disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness or being unresponsive
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

People suffering from heat exhaustion need to get to a cool place, remove extra clothes and drink lots of water. Symptoms to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • Headache
  • Decreased energy
  • Loss of appetite or nausea

Understand Your Risk and Make A Plan

Struggling to pay for an air conditioner?

You may qualify for energy assistance through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).

  • If you do not have air conditioning, plan to visit a family, friend, or neighbor’s home or find a free public place such as a coffee shop, mall, or public atrium you can spend time in during the day that as air conditioning.

    View our 24/7 map of cool options and be sure to call locations ahead of time before heading out:

  • Extreme heat can cause power outages. Make a plan for what you need to do if your power goes out at our Utility Disruptions page. Have supplies on hand. Notify your utility provider immediately. 
  • Ask your utility company whether your medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer (LSE). For those who rely on electric-powered medical equipment at home (e.g., respirators, dialysis machines, apnea monitors), please register with your utility provider so you can be contacted in the event of an emergency. 

Sign up for Notify NYC 

The City can let you know when there is a heat emergency. We send out emergency alerts through Notify NYC, the City’s official emergency notification system. Receive free, customizable emergency alerts in 14 different languages including ASL. 

Download the free mobile app today or receive notifications in 13 different languages by signing up at NYC.gov/notify, following us on Twitter at @NotifyNYC (or @NNYCSpanish, @NNYCChinese, @NNYCArabic, @NNYCBengali, @NNYCChinese, @NNYCCreole, @NNYCFrench, @NNYCItalian, @NNYCKorean, @NNYCPolish, @NNYCSpanish, @NNYCRussian, @NNYCUrdu, @NNYCYiddish) or calling 3-1-1 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115).

Protect Your Home from Extreme Heat 

  • Install high-performance windows and sunshades (such as blackout curtains). 
  • Install an indoor thermometer so you can measure the heat inside your home. 
  • Check the condition of your air conditioning and ventilation systems. 
  • Insulate your home.

What to Do During Extreme Heat

Check the Weather Reports & Stay Connected

Regularly check the heat index at the National Weather Service or other news source. The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels based on temperature and humidity. A heat index above 95°F is especially dangerous. 

Indoor Heat Safety

If it reaches above 90° in your home:

  • Set your air conditioning unit to at least 78° or “low cool” to be safe, comfortable, and save money. This could save your life. 
  • Close window shades or curtains.
  • Try not to use your stove and oven.
  • Take a cool shower or bath (not a freezing one).
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar.

Older adults and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives at least twice a day during a heat wave. If you know anyone who is elderly and/or heat sensitive, be a buddy and check in on them frequently during extreme heat. 

Outdoor Heat Safety

Stay safe outdoors with these tips:

  • Avoid strenuous physical activity.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Stay in the shade and out of direct sun.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Put a hat on to protect your face and head.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Limit outdoor activities to early morning and late evening hours.
  • Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or sugar.

If you work outdoors regularly, you are at higher risk for heat illness. To lower your risk:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes.
  • Take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
  • Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing if possible.
  • Be alert for the signs of heat illness in yourself and in your colleagues.

Protect Your Pets 

Protect your pets and service animals when extreme heat strikes:  

  • Never leave pets (or children) in the car. Temperatures rise quickly even with the windows down and can be deadly for your pet (or child). Call 911 if you see a pet or child in a hot car.  
  • Be sure your pets and service animals have access to plenty of water and food, especially when it's hot.  
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of shady places to go when outdoors.  
  • Avoid exercising with your pet outside on extremely hot days.  

Conserve Power 

It is important to save as much energy as possible during hot, humid summer months when people can use a lot of electricity.  

  • Steps you can take to prevent an outage include: 
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees. 
  • Use the air conditioner when you are home. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer that turns on no earlier than 30 minutes before you arrive. 
  • Turn off nonessential appliances. 
  • Have emergency supplies on hand in case of an outage. If you lose power, notify your utility provider immediately. 
  • If you lose power, notify your utility provider immediately.  

Learn more about power outages on our Utility Disruptions page. 

Learn more from Con Edison and PSEG Long Island about how you can save energy (and money on your energy bill).

Conserve Water 

The improper opening of fire hydrants wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, causes flooding on city streets, and can lower water pressure to dangerous levels and can hamper the ability of FDNY to fight fire safely and quickly. 

Properly used "spray caps" reduce hydrant output to a safe 25 gallons per minute while still providing relief from the heat. To obtain a spray cap, an adult 18 years or older with proper identification can go to their local firehouse and request one. Learn more from FDNY

What the City Does

The City works closely with the National Weather Service to monitor severe weather threats that could affect the five boroughs and communicates this to the public. The City also shares information with service providers who opt in through the Advance Warning System.

During heat emergencies, the City will open cooling centers throughout the five boroughs. Visit the Cooling Center Finder or call 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) to find out whether a cooling center is open near you.  

Additionally, the NYC Fire Department (FDNY) and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) may distribute hydrant spray caps to conserve water. Opening hydrants without a cap results in a drop in local water pressure and threatens firefighting capabilities.

When a heat advisories are in effect, the City installs spray caps on fire hydrants on certain NYC Department of Transportation's (DOT)  Open Streets with dense tree canopy cover. Open Streets with cooling features are also called "Cool Streets."

New York City Parks’ Cool It! NYC map can help New Yorkers find places near them to hydrate, refresh, and stay in the shade from NYC Parks.