FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2022 — To mark the first day of summer, the New York City Emergency Management Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourage New Yorkers to beat the heat by knowing the hazards they may face, having a plan to stay safe, and keeping informed.
The City is prioritizing neighborhoods facing the greatest health risks from heat ― as outlined in the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI) ― for new public cooling elements and refining existing programs to serve more residents during extreme heat events. People with chronic health illnesses, mental health conditions, substance or alcohol abuse, and older adults are more likely than younger New Yorkers to experience adverse effects from extreme heat. In addition, as people get older, their ability to maintain a safe body temperature declines — resulting in an increased risk for heat-related illness. New York City urges residents to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat, including vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems.
Visit the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI) to understand how health risks during and immediately after extreme heat events compare across NYC neighborhoods, and how the HVI helps the City identify and direct resources to neighborhoods at higher risk during extreme heat.
“While we are all ready to welcome long summer days and enjoy outdoor activities, extreme heat during the summer months can be deadly to older adults and people with chronic illnesses. New York City is taking several steps to provide heat relief to New Yorkers, including — but not limited to — the opening of cooling centers during days with extreme heat,” said New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. “We want to remind New Yorkers of the dangers associated with hot temperatures and inform them of the steps they can take to beat the heat.”
“Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, but it’s important to make sure we protect ourselves and others from the heat,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe on hot days, but if you do not have air conditioning, please contact 311 to see if you qualify for a free air conditioner or assistance with energy bills. During heat waves, you can visit one of the City’s cooling centers. Finally, I urge all New Yorkers to check in on your friends, family members and neighbors and make sure they are able to stay safe and cool!”
New Yorkers who do not have an air conditioner can call 311 or check online to find out whether they qualify for a free air conditioner through the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). To qualify for the cooling assistance program, households must meet certain income-level requirements, receive public benefits (such as SNAP or Code A SSI), have received a HEAP benefit during the current HEAP program year, or have a household member with a medical condition that is exacerbated by the heat. As of 2020, New York State extended eligibility to include people living in public housing or who receive housing benefits or subsidies, and who also meet certain health qualifications. In addition, this year, a letter from a medical provider is not needed to apply for the benefit. The program opened May 3, 2022, and applications will be accepted through August 31, 2022, or until funds are exhausted.
In addition, during periods of extreme heat, the City opens cooling centers. NYC Emergency Management activates the Cooling Center Finder when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, with a forecasted heat index of 95°F or higher for two or more days or 100°F for any period. When the Cooling Center Finder is active, you can find your nearest cooling center by calling 311 or visiting NYC.gov/beattheheat. Cooling centers located at older adult center sites will be reserved for older New Yorkers, ages 60 and older. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, individuals are reminded to stay at home if they are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
NYC PARKS’ COOL IT! NYC MAP
To help New Yorkers stay cool, NYC Parks has highlighted cooling elements citywide with its Cool It! NYC map. By using the map, visitors will be able to find the locations of the closest outdoor pools, spray showers and water fountains in their neighborhood, and with the Leafiest Blocks and Park Tree Canopy categories, easily find NYC Parks' recommendations for blocks and areas with the most shade to help stay cool this summer.
During extreme heat events, the Cool It! NYC map will be updated as necessary.
CHECK ON THOSE MOST AT-RISK DURING EXTREME HEAT
During extreme heat, the Department of Social Services (DSS) issues a Code Red Alert. During Code Reds, shelter is available to anyone experiencing homelessness, where those experiencing heat-related discomfort can access designated cooling areas. DSS staff and the agency’s not-for-profit contracted outreach teams who engage with individuals experiencing homelessness 24/7/365 redouble their efforts during extreme heat, with a focus on connecting vulnerable unsheltered New Yorkers to services and shelter.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY TIPS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST THE HEAT
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF HEAT ILLNESS
Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know has:
If you or someone you know feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.
KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE
IMPROPER FIRE HYDRANT USE
The improper opening of fire hydrants wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, causes flooding on city streets, and lowers water pressure to dangerous levels, which hamper the ability of the Fire Department to fight fire safely and quickly.
Use “spray caps” to 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 his or her local firehouse and request one.
During periods of intense electrical usage, such as on hot, humid days, it is important to conserve energy as much as possible to avoid brownouts and other electrical disruptions. While lowering your power usage may seem inconvenient, your cooperation will help ensure that utility providers are able to provide uninterrupted electrical service to you and your neighbors, particularly those who use electric powered medical equipment or are at risk of heat-related illness and death:
For more information, visit NYC.gov/beattheheat. New Yorkers are also encouraged to stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC, the City's free emergency communications program, to receive free emergency alerts and updates in your preferred language and format by visiting NYC.gov/NotifyNYC, calling 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115), following @NotifyNYC on Twitter, or getting the free Notify NYC mobile application for your Apple or Android device.
MEDIA CONTACT: Press Office (718) 422-4888
STAY CONNECTED: Twitter: @NotifyNYC (emergency notifications);
@nycemergencymgt (emergency preparedness info)