Health Department Advises New Yorkers to Protect Themselves Against Excessive Heat

High Temperatures Predicted for Much of New York State, including New York City

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 22, 2016) - The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is urging New Yorkers to take precautions against excessive heat and high temperatures this weekend by going tocooling centers around the state.

NYSDOH has created an online list of cooling centers across the state, where people can cool down on days of extreme temperatures.

The website provides addresses and phone numbers for cooling centers shared by local health departments and emergency management offices. For counties with no listings, NYSDOH recommends visiting local libraries, supermarkets, malls, spray parks and community swimming pools to stay cool. Visitors should call before going since some cooling centers may be closed at certain times or available only during extreme heat events.

Knowing where to go to stay cool in extreme heat is especially important for older adults, children and those without access to air conditioning at home or at work.

"The combination of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity could result in dangerous health conditions across New York, especially for older individuals who have underlying health conditions, infants and young children, and people participating in outdoor activities," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, take appropriate precautions, and know what to do if you or someone you encounter is experiencing health issues due to extreme heat."

To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat, NYSDOH offers the following advice:

  • Minimize, if possible, strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Exercise during early morning hours or in the evening, when the temperatures tend to be lower.
  • Drink at least 2-4 glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Stay out of the sun and seek air-conditioned settings. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a building with air conditioning (such as libraries, malls, supermarkets, or friends' homes).
  • If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15 and a hat to protect your face and head. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body.
  • Never leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or other vehicles during periods of intense summer heat. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill within a matter of minutes.
  • Make an effort to check on your family, friends and neighbors during a heat wave, especially the elderly, infants and young children, or others with special needs.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of illness, and take steps to respond quickly.
  • Make sure there is enough water and food for pets and limit their exercise during periods of extreme temperatures.

For more information on the symptoms and treatment for heat-related illnesses, visit Keep Your Cool During Summer Heat.

To see the Cooling Centers web page, visit:

Background on Heat Health Hazards

Heat-related illness occurs when the body cannot cool itself. The most common illnesses are heat stroke (sun stroke), heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that produces a range of symptoms including hot, dry skin; body temperatures of 105 degrees F or higher, rapid pulse and loss of consciousness. Heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke, can cause heavy sweating, fainting, vomiting, and weakness.

Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke can be life threatening. Body temperature can rise and cause brain damage; death may result if the individual is not cooled quickly. Signs include hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. A cold bath or sponge can provide relief and lower body temperature.

Heat Exhaustion: While less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion poses health concerns and it most often occurs when people exercise too heavily or work in warm, humid places where body fluids are lost. Signs and symptoms l include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. If these occur, move the victim out of sun, and apply cool, wet cloths.

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms are often caused by heavy exertion. Loss of water and salt from sweating causes cramping. Symptoms are abdominal and leg muscle pain. Firm pressure or gentle massages applied to cramping can provide relief. Remember to hydrate often while exercising or working outdoors.

Heat Rash: Skin irritation that looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters may be a heat rash. Try to move the person to a cool place, keep the affected area dry, and use talcum powder to decrease irritation.