Shannon Brady
Writer & Editor

When the city is heating up, here’s how you can stay cool.

Summer 2022 is proving to be one of the hottest seasons on record. Wildfires are raging in the Pacific Northwest, Texas and several other Central and Southern states are experiencing consistent temperatures in the triple digits with no sign of relief, and several states in the Northeast are experiencing record-breaking high temperatures not seen in decades.

New York is no exception. In this latest heat wave, temperatures are expected to surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a drought watch has been issued for several counties in New York State, including four out of the five boroughs of New York City.

The hottest days of the summer are forecast to still be on the way. Con Edison warns that the high heat and predicted thunderstorms could cause widespread power outages.

Specially designated cooling centers can be found throughout the city for residents who don’t have access to air conditioning in their homes. You can locate your nearest cooling center here. If you do not have air conditioning, you may also qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program.

You may receive alerts from the National Weather Service warning of dangerous levels of heat in a given time frame.

 A heat advisory indicates that the temperatures will reach 95 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit for two consecutive days or 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit for any length of time. An excessive heat watch indicates that the temperature will reach or exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit within the next 24-48 hours. Finally, an excessive heat warning indicates that the temperature will reach or exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two consecutive hours within the next 24 hours.

On an individual level, here are some things you can do to stay safe in extreme heat.

  •  Stay hydrated! Water is the best liquid to drink by far, but most drinks will keep you sufficiently hydrated, including sports drinks, coffee, tea, and juice.
  • The only drink that will not hydrate you at all is alcohol, so limit or stop your alcohol intake during hot spells.
  • It’s best to drink small amounts of water throughout the day, rather than chugging one large bottle and calling it a day.
  • You can also eat fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon and cucumbers.
  • Do not overexert yourself. Perform only light exercise and other physical activity.
  • 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM are the hottest hours of the day, while 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM are the coolest. If possible, plan to be most active during the cooler hours and least active during the hottest hours.
  • Stay out of the sun if you can. If you must go outside, wear sunblock of at least SPF 30 and a hat to protect yourself from UV rays.
  • Wear lightweight, loose clothing so air can better circulate around your body to cool you.
  • Never leave children or pets in a parked car during the summer. The temperature inside the car will be much hotter than the temperature outside, and it can kill quickly.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes (such as going straight from being overheated to an ice-cold bath or shower) as they will make you sick. Cool yourself off gradually whenever possible.
  • If you have a breeze, hang a damp towel over your open window to cool the air coming in.
  • If there is no breeze, close and cover your windows to insulate your home.
  • If you don’t have ice packs, cool off a damp towel or washcloth in your fridge and wrap it around your forehead or neck to stay cool.

Beware of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These conditions can be fatal if not given immediate emergency medical attention. There have already been several heat-related deaths across the country in this summer’s heat waves. Young children, the elderly, and those who work outdoors are especially vulnerable. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion, a condition in which the body has lost too much water and salt in the heat, include:

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Arm, leg, and/or stomach cramps
  • Excessive thirst and decreased urination
  • Rapid breathing
  • A body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

Symptoms of heat exhaustion progressing to heat stroke, a condition in which the rapidly overheating body can no longer regulate its own temperature and cool down, include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Seizures
  • A body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at Stay safe, healthy, and cool!