father and son talking by phone on hot day, with son reminding father to use air conditioning. Text reads Be a Buddy! When it's hot, make sure neighbors and family are in an air-conditioned place.

Hot Weather and Your Health

Hot and humid weather is not just uncomfortable, it is also the deadliest type of weather event in NYC. The extra stress on the body from heat can also worsen chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease. Climate change is making dangerously hot weather more common and more severe in NYC. Be prepared and keep yourself and your family safe by using these tips.

Stay Cool and Safe

Find a Cool Space

In NYC, most heatstroke deaths happened to people who were in homes without air conditioning. Air conditioning saves lives. Setting air conditioning to 78°F can help you stay safe, comfortable and save money on utility bills.

If you do not have air conditioning:

  • Apply for a free air conditioner through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Enroll in Con Edison's financial assistance program to receive a discount on your utility bills.
  • Find a place nearby that has air conditioning. Visit a friend’s place, a mall, museum, coffee shop, library, or an NYC cooling center. Even just a few hours in an air-conditioned space can reduce heat strain.
  • Call 311 or find a cooling center in New York City during a heat wave. Sign up for NotifyNYC to get most up to date climate information.
  • During heat waves, using a fan or opening windows is not enough to keep cool and you should find a safe air-conditioned space.

Be A Buddy: Help Those at Risk

Check on family, friends and neighbors to make sure they stay safe and cool.

  • Encourage them to use air conditioning or help them get to a cool place.
  • Make sure they are drinking plenty of water.
  • Be alert for signs of heat illness, and call 911 immediately if someone shows these signs.

Check the Weather Reports

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.

If there is an air quality advisory while it is also hot, remember that staying cool is most important. Sealing yourself inside hot indoor spaces can be more dangerous than being outdoors when there is poor air quality. Visit Air Quality: Fire and Smoke for additional guidance.

People at High Risk for Illness

Factors that Increase Risk

People are more likely to die from heat if they do not have or use air conditioning and:

  • Have chronic conditions including heart disease, mental health or cognitive conditions and diabetes.
  • Use drugs or drink heavily
  • Take medicines that make it difficult for your body to stay cool (speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information).
  • Have limited mobility or are unable to leave the home.

Adults age 60 and older are more likely to have some combination of these risk factors. Black New Yorkers are also at a higher risk of dying from heat due in part to racist systems and policies that impact their health and available resources. You can see this impact at the neighborhood level in the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index.

Heat impacts are also more likely to be experienced among:

  • Infants and children: Babies and children up to 4 years old are more sensitive to heat. Caregivers need to make sure that infants and children stay cool and have enough to drink. Watch for signs they may be getting sick from the heat. Never leave children by themselves in a vehicle.

  • Pregnant people: Pregnant people are sensitive to heat. An increase in body temperature may bring on labor, preterm birth or lower birth weight. Those who are pregnant should stay in a cool place, drink fluids and take it easy when it’s hot.

  • Workers: People who work in hot indoor places are at risk of getting sick from the heat. People who work outside are also at risk during very hot weather. Water, rest and keeping cool can help workers stay safe.

To learn more about protecting people at greater-risk of getting sick from heat , visit CDC: People at Increased Risk for Heat-Related Illness.

Signs of Heat Illness

Heat Stroke

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

Heat Exhaustion

If you or someone you know has signs of heat exhaustion, 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


Indoor Heat Safety

Follow these tips to help lower your risk of suffering from heat illness while indoors:

  • Use your air conditioner if you have one. Fans alone will not provide enough cooling when it is very hot outside.
  • Set your air conditioning unit to 78° or “low cool” to be safe, comfortable and save money. Just a few hours in a cool place can make a difference.
  • Close window shades or curtains.
  • Try not to use your stove and oven.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar.

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 your 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.

Additional Resources

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