The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) ordered cooling centers in Queens and rest of the boroughs to be opened on Saturday, June 7 and remain open through Tuesday, June 10 as temperatures in the city rose into the 90s, with heat indices above 100 degrees.
“We’ve got roughly 300 cooling centers open around the city,” said Chris Gilbride of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Cooling centers are air-conditioned locations such as senior and community centers that are free and open to the public. To find a nearby center, call 3-1-1 or visit gis.nyc.gov/oem/cc/index.htm.
Over the weekend, 3,500 people visited the centers. More than 3,800 visited the centers on Monday.
Most at risk for heat-related illness are children, seniors and those with chronic medical or mental-health conditions. Medication may alter body temperature and should be discussed with a doctor.
Because the heat causes ozone levels to rise, the American Lung Association of New York warned that children, teens, seniors and people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular disease and diabetes could experience respiratory problems or even fatal effects. OEM reminded that heat could aggravate heart or lung disease.
New Yorkers are advised to use an air conditioner if they have one. Those without air conditioners should go to air conditioned places such as malls, movie theaters and cooling centers.
Guidelines for coping with the heat can be found on the OEM web site (www.nyc.gov/oem) and include tips about fans, air conditioners and showers. Drinking lots of water and wearing loose clothing is imperative and sunscreen should be SPF 15 or higher. Strenuous activity is discouraged but if necessary, should be done in the coolest part of the day, from 4 to 7 a.m.
Symptoms of heat illness include hot, dry skin and cold, clammy skin as well as weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, confusion, hallucinations and disorientation. OEM urges anyone with these symptoms to immediately call a doctor or visit the emergency room.
Fire hydrants can only be opened legally with a city-approved spray cap. Spray caps can be obtained by an adult, 18 or over, at local firehouses. The web site offers details about spray caps and the dangers of illegally opened hydrants.
Turning off appliances not in use and setting air conditioner thermostats no lower than 78 degrees are practices that conserve energy and help prevent blackouts. OEM encourages use of air conditioners only in occupied rooms, but, if the resident wants to cool their home while they are away, asks that the resident time the air conditioner to activate 30 minutes before they return.
For more information on coping with extreme heat, see the Ready New York: Beat the Heat guide at www.nyc.gov/oem.