Helping New Yorkers Beat The Heat: Mayor’s Office Announces Expanded Cooling Center Locations, Mitigation Strategies For Hurricanes, Air Quality Issues



Plan Includes Ways to Stay Safe from Extreme Heat, Prepare for Hurricanes, Respond to Air Quality Incidents  

Editor’s note: Staten Islander News has previously reported on several heat waves which prompted the opening of cooling centers across the city.  There were several in 2022 and in 2021 as well.  

NEW YORK – Ahead of the summer season, as New Yorkers experience more extreme weather events, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) Commissioner Zach Iscol today announced a robust, proactive safety plan to protect New Yorkers from extreme heat, as well as tips and resources for hurricane preparedness and air quality concerns. With climate change leading to more frequent and intense heat and other extreme weather incidents, the city is taking proactive measures to ensure residents stay safe and cool. Each summer, an estimated 350 New Yorkers die prematurely due to heat and more Americans die from heat waves in a year than all other natural disasters combined. To stay informed about the latest weather updates and other emergencies, New Yorkers can sign up for Notify NYC, the city’s free emergency notification system by calling 311, visiting the Notify NYC website, or downloading the Notify NYC app to sign up.

“We want all New Yorkers to enjoy being outside during these beautiful summer days, but we also want to make sure we are all prepared for those days when it’s too hot, as well as for other extreme weather events like hurricanes, flash floods, and wildfire smoke,” said Mayor Adams. “This year, we have expanded the number of cooling centers across the city, updated our air quality emergency guidelines, and prepared all year for the upcoming hurricane season. This administration is getting ready in advance — and we want all New Yorkers to be ready, too.”

“Our administration has been preparing to help New Yorkers beat the heat and stay safe during the warm summer months all year and we encourage everyone to do the same as well,” said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph-Varlack. “Residents should know that New York City is ready for whatever comes our way — weather it be air quality concerns, hurricanes, or extreme heat, and I encourage everyone to prioritize their safety by remaining well-informed, including with real-time updates by subscribing to Notify NYC.”

“Summer means more extreme weather — from rains that dump more water than our sewers were built for, to extreme heat, and, increasingly, smoke,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This puts our city in the crosshairs of climate change, but we are getting ahead of it — with more cooling centers, free air conditioners, and cooling kits for New Yorkers. We’re also planting trees and investing in infrastructural improvements to manage these changes. We will not leave a single tool on the table to keep New Yorkers safe.”

“New York City Emergency Management is rising to the challenges of a changing climate through new initiatives to reach our most vulnerable and empower all New Yorkers to prepare for future hazards,” said NYCEM Commissioner Iscol. “Extreme heat, storms, and other natural hazards are increasing in frequency. Our task is to adapt. Whether working with our partners to protect the grid and support our city’s most vulnerable, educating New Yorkers about the importance of cool spaces, connecting our seniors with thermometers so they can stay safe at home during heat, or delivering ‘cool kits’ to delivery drivers and outdoor laborers working under the summer sun, NYCEM’s efforts reinforce the resiliency, health, and strength of New York City.”

Extreme Heat

NYCEM released ‘Beat the Heat,’ an instructive guide for New Yorkers to navigate extreme heat this summer. During heat emergencies, New York City will activate its extensive network of cooling centers to provide indoor, cooled spaces as a respite from dangerous outdoor temperatures. To make it even easier for residents to find these cooling havens, the city is taking the following steps:

  • 24/7 Cool Options Map: The newly revamped ‘Cool Options Map’ is available around the clock beginning next week and allows New Yorkers to easily locate cooling centers, as well as find updated language on ‘cool options,’ including libraries, malls, and museums that offer air-conditioned spaces to escape the heat.
  • Increased Cooling Center Partners: NYCEM has expanded its partnerships to offer a wider range of cooling centers throughout the city, ensuring more options for residents during heat emergencies, including new cultural sites, and elected officials’ offices.
  • Pet-Friendly Cooling Centers: Through a partnership with PetCo, the city will provide numerous pet-friendly cooling centers for New Yorkers.
  • Cool Kits for Vulnerable Populations: NYCEM will pilot a program to distribute ‘cool kits’ that contain essential heat safety items to delivery drivers, outdoor workers, and other at-risk groups.
  • Indoor Thermometer Distribution: NYCEM — through its ‘Strengthening Communities’ grassroots partnership program — will pilot a program to distribute indoor thermometers to older adults, helping them monitor their home temperatures and stay safe.
  • Heat Preparedness Messaging: The city is working with food partners like City Meals on Wheels and City Harvest to distribute heat safety information to vulnerable populations.

Additional Health and Safety Tips for Extreme Heat:

  • Those most vulnerable to heat stress include adults, aged 60 and older, and people with health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, mental health conditions, or people with cognitive impairment. Check on people who are at-risk and help them find a cool place to stay during heat events.
  • Go to an air-conditioned location, even if for a few hours.
  • Stay out of the sun and avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 AM and 7:00 AM.
  • Remember: drink water, rest, and locate shade if you are working outdoors or if your work is strenuous. Drink water every 15 minutes even if not thirsty (avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine), rest in the shade, and watch out for others on outdoor teams. Employers are required to provide water, rest, and shade when work is being done during extreme heat.
  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Participate in activities to keep cool, such as going to the movies, visiting museums, walking in an air-conditioned mall, or swimming at a pool or beach.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and, in apartments where children live, window guards. Air conditioners in buildings more than six stories must be installed with brackets so they are secured and cannot fall on someone below.
  • Never leave a child or pets in the vehicle, even for a few minutes.

Know the Warning Signs of Heat Illness: 

Call 911 immediately if experiencing:

  • Hot dry skin.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • If feeling weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.

Animal Safety:

  • Pets can dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water.
  • Walk dogs in the morning and evening. When the temperature is very high, do not let dogs linger on hot asphalt. A pet’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.
  • Know when a pet is in danger. Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, unresponsiveness, or even collapse.

Improper Fire Hydrant Use:  

  • The improper opening of fire hydrants can waste 1,000 gallons of water per minute or more, causing flooding on city streets, and dropping water pressure to dangerously low levels, which can hamper the ability of the Fire Department of the City of New York to fight fires 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 their local firehouse and request one.

Energy-Saving Tips:  

  • During periods of intense electrical usage, such as on hot, humid days, it is important to conserve energy as much as possible to avoid power disruptions. While diminishing power usage may seem inconvenient, cooperation will help to ensure that utility providers are able to provide uninterrupted electrical service to New Yorkers, particularly those who use electric powered medical equipment or are at risk of heat-related illness and death. Additional tips include:
  • Preset air conditioners to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or “low.”
  • Run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it is cooler outside to reduce heat and moisture in homes.
  • Close doors to keep cool air in and hot air out when an air conditioner is running.
  • Keep shades, blinds, and curtains closed. About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows.
  • Turn off air conditioners, lights, and other appliances when not at home, and use a timer or smart technology to turn on air conditioners about a half-hour before arriving home. Keep air conditioner filters clean.
  • Businesses should keep their doors closed while an air conditioner is running.
  • Tell utility providers if someone in the home depends on medical equipment that requires electricity.

Additionally, to mark National Heat Awareness Day on May 31st, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) will host a day of action in the South Bronx, focused on connecting New Yorkers to NYCEM’s new resources and to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Through HEAP, income-eligible New Yorkers can receive a financial benefit towards the purchase of an air conditioner.

Air Quality
After last year’s air quality concerns due to wildfire smoke from Canada, NYCEM developed updated internal guides specific to air quality incidents. NYCEM developed the guide in collaboration with local stakeholders and with input from counterparts from cities like San Francisco. This protocol will enhance communication and outreach to vulnerable populations, as well as monitoring and tracking impacts on critical services and infrastructure, such as public transportation and hospitals. Additional actions may include distributing masks to the public, modifying school operations, and curtailing services and outdoor events, depending on the severity of the air quality levels.

The city has also updated air quality guidance and resources to provide more information about air pollution and hazards, impacts to health, and recommendations for the general public and vulnerable populations.

While New York City typically experiences several Air Quality Health Advisories each year due to pollutants, ground-level ozone, or a combination of both, the exact timing and severity of such events remain difficult to predict far in advance. NYCEM continues to closely monitor both local and upstream conditions, including wildfire and smoke patterns from as far as Canada, to take necessary measures to protect public health and safety.

As New York enters hurricane season starting in August, NYCEM urges residents to make a plan, stay informed, and know their evacuation zones. New Yorkers can find out what evacuation zone they live in by visiting NYCEM’s hurricane website or by calling 311. Additional safety tips are also available online.

“A warming climate and more extreme temperatures can have devastating consequences,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “As we enter the summer season, listen to your body, and watch out for symptoms of heat related illness, like clammy skin, confusion, and nausea. As much as you can, try to keep cool. The city will continue to share resources throughout the summer to help New Yorkers beat the heat.”

“Climate change is driving our summer-time temperatures higher and making our storms more dangerous, which means we need all New Yorkers to be prepared, to stay alert, and to look out for your neighbors,” said New York City Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Heat kills more New Yorkers every year than other types of extreme weather and one great and affordable way to help stay cool is to regularly drink our world class tap water.”

“Heat can be deadly, and we applaud NYCEM, Mayor Adams, and our community partners for finding ways to meet New Yorkers where they are when the temperature rises this summer with a full suite of options to stay cool and healthy,” said New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “I’m particularly excited for the cultural partners who have joined the program — these organizations are already community hubs and welcoming spaces, so finding ways to keep residents safe while expanding opportunities to engage with culture is a major win-win. Stay cool, New York!”

“An inclusive city ensures residents — regardless of age — can stay safe and cool whenever inclement weather activates the city’s extreme heat plan. The New York City Department for the Aging and our network of older adult centers across all five boroughs are once again ready to serve as cooling centers for respite from extreme heat during the summer months,” said New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “I applaud Mayor Adams and Commissioner Iscol for today’s announcement and look forward to working with colleagues across the city to help reduce the number of heat-related tragedies this summer.”

“Extreme heat, which has become more common due to climate change, is the deadliest weather-related hazard in New York City, and Black New Yorkers are twice as likely to die of heat stress as white New Yorkers,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Elijah Hutchinson. “That’s why we’re advocating for a maximum indoor air temperature and stressing the importance of preparedness. Because air conditioners save lives, all eligible New Yorkers should apply now for help buying and installing one at”

“The Public Engagement Unit is committed to helping get this important resource in the hands of New Yorkers, particularly those in low-income communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by extreme heat,” said PEU Executive Director Adrienne Lever. “Our teams will be out in the streets and knocking on doors in the communities most affected by extreme heat to spread awareness about NYCEM’s ‘beat the heat’ tips and help income-eligible New Yorkers connect to financial benefits that can help them cool their homes.”

“This summer, Con Edison is investing more than $2 billion in critical infrastructure projects to support New York’s transition away from fossil fuels and to improve the reliability of our grid. These investments help build an electric delivery system that can deliver reliable clean energy and help us meet the increased demand for power in the summer months,” said Matthew Ketschke, president, Con Edison. “Our investments provide value for every customer and ensure that our grid remains resilient and reliable in the face of extreme weather such as heat waves and storms, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.”

“Summertime is a great time at The New York Public Library. While we’re busy preparing for our summer series of engaging and educational programming, we also know that New Yorkers need cool and comfortable spaces where they can beat the heat,” said Anthony W. Marx, president, The New York Public Library. “With over 90 locations throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island — our branches not only offer a respite from the sun but are also a place where neighbors can find their next favorite book, attend a program, use our computers, or just meet others in the community. We’re proud to join the city as they proactively prepare for the summer and encourage everyone to visit their local library. Libraries are for everyone!”

“We are grateful to once again partner with NYCEM as we work to keep New Yorkers safe this summer,” said Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “Brooklyn Public Library is the perfect place to come on a hot summer day. You can stay cool and curl up with a good book, borrow a laptop, or attend new, educational programs at locations across the borough.”

“We are proud to serve as a cooling center for our local communities this summer,” said Kimberly Panicek (KP) Truebloodpresident and chief operating officer, Brooklyn Museum. “Our doors are open to provide a comfortable and safe environment where residents can escape the heat, enjoy our exhibits, and experience the arts in a cool and welcoming space. We are committed to supporting our community in every season and look forward to offering a respite from the summer sun.”

“I am proud to partner with Mayor Adams and NYCEM Commissioner Iscol for the launch of this year’s ‘Beat the Heat’ safety plan,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “This plan proactively addresses the scourge of extreme heat and other adverse weather — which climate change has only exacerbated. Each summer, our city loses an average of 350 precious lives to heat-related deaths, accounting for 2 percent of deaths during the summer, and falling disproportionately on our African-American community. Through ‘Beat the Heat,’ we will make sure everyone stays safe and cool this summer, working until nobody loses a loved one to extreme heat.”

Banner Image: Air conditioning. Image Credit – Chromatograph


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