How to Help Your Neighbors and Protect Your Health During a Heat Wave in NYC

New York City is officially going through a heat wave. The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department has advised New Yorkers to take precautions to beat the heat.

In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe and healthy when it is hot outside, but some people at risk of heat illness do not have or do not turn on an air conditioner.

woman sitting on poolside setting both of her feet on pool

Help Your Neighbors

  • Check on your neighbors virtually or over the phone during a heat wave, especially if they are older adults, young children, and people with disabilities and access and functional needs. Keep in touch by phone at least twice a day during heat waves. Avoid in-person visits to protect your health and the health of others.
    • Seniors (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.
    • Many older New Yorkers live alone and could suffer unnecessarily in the heat because they are isolated from friends and family.
  • In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe and healthy when it is hot outside, but some vulnerable people do not have an air conditioner or do not turn it on when they need it. Encourage them to use air conditioning. Help them get to an air-conditioned place if they cannot stay cool at home. Make sure they are drinking enough water.
  • Protect your pets and service animals when extreme heat strikes:
      • Never leave pets in the car. Temperatures rise quickly even with the windows down and can be deadly for your pet. Call 911 if you see a pet or child in a hot car.
      • Be sure your pets have access to plenty of water, 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.
      • Be sure your pet or service animal has plenty of food and water.

    Protect Your Health – Stay Cool

    • Use an air conditioner during hot weather and heat emergencies, even if it is only for a few hours. A setting of 78 degrees F (or low cool) can provide a comfortable environment, help save on electricity bills, and conserve energy.
    • If you do not have an air conditioner, you may qualify for energy assistance. Visit the Human Resource Administration online for information about the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
    • During heat emergencies, the City will open cooling centers throughout the five boroughs. Visit the Cooling Center Finder or contact 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) to find out whether a cooling center is open near you.
      • Note: Cooling centers are facilities managed by agency partners who determine each site’s hours of operation, level(s) of accessibility and other logistical details. New Yorkers are encouraged to call ahead to determine whether their pets are fallowed at the facilities. Service animals are always allowed. For additional information, please contact these facilities directly.
    • If possible, stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head.
    • Use an air conditioner if you have one.
    • If you do not have an air conditioner, keep rooms well-ventilated with open windows and fans.
    • Fans work best at night, when they can bring in cooler air from outside.
    • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
    • Drink fluids — particularly water — even if you do not feel thirsty.* (*People with heart, kidney or liver disease, or on fluid restricted diets should check with their doctors before increasing fluid intake.)
    • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
    • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
    • Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes. Never take a shower immediately after becoming overheated – extreme temperature changes may make you ill, nauseated, or dizzy.
    • If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, stay in an area where it is cool and the air is filtered or air-conditioned.