State agencies prepared to respond to extreme heat impacts and provide resources to local governments; encourages people to visit regional cooling centers
Gov. Kathy Hochul has cautioned New Yorkers of dangerous heat conditions forecast to impact much of the state later this week.
Her team said, “New Yorkers should prepare in advance for high heat and humidity in the forecast on Thursday and Friday, with heat index values – or ‘feels like’ temperatures – of more than 100 degrees in lower elevation areas across the state. Hochul encouraged New Yorkers to take precautions and plan ahead as extreme heat makes its way into the state.
"Extreme heat is posing a significant health risk for New Yorkers, especially for vulnerable populations like children and seniors," Hochul said. "I have directed state agencies to take all necessary precautions to keep New Yorkers safe during this weather event, and will be deploying personnel as necessary. Before the heat hits New York on Thursday, I encourage all New Yorkers to take common-sense precautions: Stay out of the sun, keep yourself hydrated, check on your neighbors, and identify a cooling center near you."
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Later this week, New York will see apparent temperatures near or over 100 throughout much of the state. These temps can be dangerous for some if outside for extended periods or without air conditioning. Take time now to plan ahead and consider alternative plans for Thursday and Friday if you're in an area expected to see extreme conditions."
New Yorkers are encouraged to monitor their local weather forecast for the most up-to-date information. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
The Department of Health encourages New Yorkers to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness and maintains an updated list of cooling centers, which are submitted by local health departments and emergency management offices.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "The combination of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity could result in dangerous health conditions across New York, especially for older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions. It's important that residents be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, stay hydrated, utilize air-conditioned spaces and avoid strenuous outdoor activity if possible."
A press release stated, “Older adults and individuals with chronic diseases are most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Factors such as obesity, fever, dehydration, prescription drug use, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, alcohol use, outdoor work, and living in urban areas where pollution may linger on hot days can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.
“Signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion include high body temperatures (103 degrees or higher); hot, red, dry or clammy skin; fast, strong pulse or a fast, weak pulse; headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness or weakness; muscle cramps or spasms; and losing consciousness, passing out, and fainting. If these symptoms are evident, call 911, move the person to a cool place, loosen clothing, and put cool, wet clothes on their body or get them into a cool bath. Heat-related illnesses can be avoided, and there are numerous ways they can be prevented.”
New Yorkers are encouraged to keep windows and shades open on the shady side and closed on the sunny side of the house if there is no air conditioning in the home, to drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks, to take cool showers and baths, stay out of the sun, avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.), to stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat when in the sun, and to never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly, as temperatures in the car can become dangerous within just a few minutes.
To alleviate the impact of extreme heat, there are public air-conditioned locations where residents can cool down, including cooling centers, libraries, shopping malls and supermarkets. Information about the locations of cooling centers can be found here.
New York State Department of Public Service CEO Rory M. Christian said, "To help reduce the demand for electricity, it's important for the public and businesses to lower their electricity usage. In addition, the public should look for ways to stay cool and hydrated. By taking action now, we can lower electricity usage during this heat wave while staying healthy and safe."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "With temperatures expected to reach dangerous levels later this week, New Yorkers are urged to take precautions to keep cool and stay safe. Extreme heat and other impacts of climate change, including more severe storms and air pollution, continue to negatively impact New York's communities. In coordination with Gov. Hochul and state, city and community partners, DEC is committed to educating New Yorkers about how to prepare for extreme temperatures and collaborate on development of strategies to address extreme heat today and into the future."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "All New Yorkers, especially those vulnerable to extreme heat, can take immediate and precautionary measures to keep cool while managing energy and costs. Balancing more traditional energy management methods such as keeping curtains drawn can be done right away while homeowners simultaneously pursue long-term solutions such as pairing a free energy assessment from New York state with improving home weatherization and opting for clean energy technologies."
New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Our New York State Park pools, beaches and spraygrounds are ready to welcome people looking to cool off during this extreme heat. While enjoying our various swimming areas, we urge all visitors to please keep safety in mind for yourself and your loved ones."
•The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services emergency operations center is monitoring the weather forecast with a close eye on the heat index this week. DHSES is communicating with local emergency managers across the state and will coordinate any potential state agency response to aid local governments. The state's stockpiles are equipped to deploy resources, as needed, throughout impacted parts of the state.
•The Department of Environmental Conservation advises that summer heat can lead to the formation of ground-level ozone. DEC and DOH issue air quality health advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, including ozone and fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index value of 100, when concentrations in outdoor air are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups. More information about New york state air quality forecast is available here. To check current local air quality, go to www.airnow.gov.
Hochul has directed DEC and NYSERDA to coordinate the state's planning and response efforts. More than 20 New York agencies and authorities are working together as part of the Extreme Heat Action Plan Working Group to advance strategies to help address the impacts of extreme heat on disadvantaged communities and other New Yorkers vulnerable to the effects of increasingly high temperatures driven by climate change.
Interim recommendations announced by Hochul last year represented the first phase of a more comprehensive extreme heat action plan underway to will identify state-led actions that address the structural drivers of extreme heat and its disproportionate impact on New York's most vulnerable communities. Early action includes the addition of extreme heat to the New York State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to allow the state to adequately prepare for, respond to, and recover from an extreme heat event.
A community advisory panel consisting of representatives from community organizations and local governments, subject matter experts, and other stakeholder groups is meeting regularly to provide input on developing the plan, which will also include opportunities for the public to learn and provide input through information events and comment periods. A webinar series hosted by DEC and NYSERDA, in conjunction with the Extreme Heat Action Plan Work Group and University at Buffalo, recently concluded and included presentations by a panel of subject matter experts on topics relevant to state and local planning for extreme heat events. For additional information about the impacts of extreme heat, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/125801.html.
•The New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) is tracking electric system conditions and overseeing utility response to any situations that may arise as a result of this week's extreme heat. New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available as necessary to engage in damage assessment, response, repair and restoration efforts across New York for any weather-related impacts this week. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.
•Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: New York State Parks has facilities across the state where the public can go to cool off with swimming at pools and waterbodies or cooling off at spraygrounds. A list of available State Parks swimming facilities is available here.
Heat Safety Tips
Hochul’s team said, “To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat, follow the below guidance and visit the DHSES ‘Heat Safety Tips’ webpage.”
Taking precautions to avoid heat exhaustion is important, and this includes adjusting your schedule to avoid the outdoors during the hottest hours of the day, and modifying your diet and water intake when possible. To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat, follow the below guidance and visit the DHSES “Heat Safety Tips” webpage.
√ Reduce strenuous activities and exercises, especially during peak sunlight hours.
√ Exercise should be conducted early in the morning, before 7 a.m.
√ Eat less protein and more fruits and vegetables. Protein produces and increases metabolic heat, which causes water loss. Eat small meals but eat more often. Do not eat salty foods.
√ Drink at least two to four glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
√ If possible, stay out of the sun and stay in air conditioning. The sun heats the inner core of your body, resulting in dehydration. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a public building with air conditioning.
√ If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (at least SPF 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 vehicle, especially 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.
√ Try to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are elderly, have young children or have individual needs. Make sure there is enough food and water for your pets.
√ Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. Call 911 if you or someone you know shows signs or symptoms of heat illness, including headache, light headedness, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting.
NYSERDA recommends taking smart steps to reduce energy use, particularly during periods of peak demand, not only helps to lower the state's peak load but also saves consumers money when electricity is the most expensive. To reduce energy use, particularly during peak periods, the public is encouraged to take some of the following low- or no-cost energy saving measures:
√ Close drapes, windows and doors on your home's sunny side to reduce solar heat buildup.
√ Turn off air conditioners, lights and other appliances when not at home, and use a timer to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home. Use advanced power strips to centrally "turn off" all appliances and save energy.
√ Fans can make rooms feel 10 degrees cooler and use 80% less energy than air conditioners.
√ If purchasing an air conditioner, look for an ENERGY STAR-qualified model, which uses up to 25% less energy than a standard model.
√ Set your air conditioner at 78 degrees or higher to save on your cooling costs.
√ Place your air conditioner in a central window, rather than a corner window, to allow for better air movement.
√ Consider placing the unit on the north, east or the best-shaded side of your home. Your air conditioner will have to work harder and use more energy if it is exposed to direct sunlight.
√ Seal spaces around the air conditioner with caulking to prevent cool air from escaping.
√ Clean the cooling and condenser fans plus the coils to keep your air conditioner operating efficiently and check the filter every month and replace as needed.
√ Use appliances such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and ovens early in the morning or late at night. This will also help reduce humidity and heat in the home.
√ Use energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR-qualified light bulbs instead of standard incandescent light bulbs, and you can use 75% less energy.
√ Microwave food when possible. Microwaves use approximately 50% less energy than conventional ovens.
√ Dry clothes on a clothesline. If using a clothes dryer, remember to clean the dryer's lint trap before every load.
√ Be mindful of the different ways you're consuming water throughout your home. Instead of using 30 to 40 gallons of water to take a bath, install a low-flow showerhead, which uses less than 3 gallons a minute.
√ Lowering the temperature setting on your wash machine and rinsing in cold water will reduce energy use.
√ Additional tips on how to conserve energy are available on NYSERDA's website here.
•Adult supervision. This is the No. 1 way to prevent drowning. Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate a “water watcher.” This person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone, drinking alcoholic beverages, or otherwise distracted.
•Choose bright colors. Studies show the color of one's bathing suit can make a difference in visibility. Consider the color of your child's swimsuit before heading to a pool, beach or lake. For light-bottomed pools, neon pink and neon orange tend to be the most visible. For lakes and dark-bottomed pools, neon orange, neon green and neon yellow tend to be the most visible.
•Identify swimmers in need of help. While we tend to think that swimmers in trouble will be waving their hands and making lots of noise, this may not always be the case. Watch out for people whose heads are low in the water (mouth submerged) or tilted back with mouth open, eyes closed or unable to focus, legs vertical in the water, or who are trying to swim but not making progress.
•Swimming lessons. Multiple studies show swimming lessons prevent drowning. Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
Open Water Safety
•Wear life jackets. Put life jackets on kids anytime they are on a boat or participating in other open water recreational activities. Personal flotation devices should always be used for children that do not know how to swim. New York state law requires that children under 12 wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest on a boat or water vessel. For more information on proper life jackets, go to the U.S. Coast Guard site.
•Choose a spot on the beach close to a lifeguard and swim only when a lifeguard is on duty.
•Watch for warning flags and know what they mean. Green flags usually mark designated swimming areas – be sure to swim between the green flags. Yellow flags may denote a surfing beach or an advisory. Red flags indicate a danger or hazard, and no one should swim when they are shown. Flag designations may vary so be sure to understand the color coding before you dive in.
•Watch out for rip currents. Rip currents are powerful currents moving away from shore. They tend to form near a shallow point in the water, such as a sandbar, or close to jetties and piers, and can happen at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes! They are the No. 1 hazard for beachgoers and can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. If you are caught in a rip current, try to remain calm and don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, and float or tread water if you begin to tire. More from the National Weather Service: “Break the Grip of the Rip!”
•Beware of large waves and strong surf. Ocean swimming is different from swimming in a calm pool or lake. Large waves can easily knock over an adult. Be prepared for strong surf as well as sudden drop-offs near the shore.
Pool Safety Tips
•Put up barriers. Install appropriate safety barriers around in-home pools and spas. This includes fences, gates, door alarms and covers.
•Pool alarms. Install a pool alarm to detect and provide notification of unattended pool access.
•Small pools. Drain and put away smaller portable pools when not in use.
•Cover drains. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid them getting stuck. Children's hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening. Also, ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, which include drain shape, drain cover size, and rate of water flow. Learn more here.
A list of available state parks swimming facilities is available here.