road in between buildings nyc heat summer
Prolonged high heat can cause severe illnesses. Credit: Arthur Brognoli

Temperatures are going to be dangerously high in New York City this week. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to feel like 100 degrees in some areas.  

This week’s weather is caused by a heat dome that will surround New York City for several days. A heat dome occurs when high pressure in the atmosphere traps hot air over an area, even after sunset.

Prolonged high heat can cause severe illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke. It also disproportionately threatens vulnerable populations: seniors, young children, people with pre-existing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or mental health conditions, and people who are unhoused.

Annual data shows that, on average, an estimated 350 New Yorkers die prematurely due to hot weather. Here are some tips to stay cool while remaining safe during this heatwave. 

Stay safe outdoors 

  • Drink plenty of water during the day, preferably from an insulated water bottle, even if you are not thirsty. 
  • Avoid intense physical activity, stay in the shade, and avoid direct sun. 
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothes and use sunscreen with SPF15 or higher to protect your skin.
  • If possible, limit outdoor activities to early morning and late evening hours. Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or sugar, which can dehydrate you faster in hot weather.
  • If you work outdoors regularly, you are at higher risk for heat illness. To lower your risk of heat-related illnesses, drink water every 15 minutes, take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas, and wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing if possible.

Be alert for the signs of heat exhaustion in yourself and your colleagues, such as heavy sweating, muscle cramps, feeling faint, loss of appetite, or nausea. People suffering from heat exhaustion must get to a cool place, remove extra clothes, and drink lots of water. If the symptoms evolve to hallucinations, disorientation, trouble breathing, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or unresponsiveness, it could be a heatstroke; call 911 or go to an emergency room.

Cool down

Air conditioning might be the best way to stay safe during extreme heat, which brings to light some of the city’s economic disparities.

  • If you need help cooling your home, the city offers the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which helps some families get a free air conditioner or fans.
  • There are Cooling Centers across all boroughs. These are existing indoor spaces, like the Queens Public Library, that have consistent air conditioning, water, and restrooms that can be used as oases in the city.
    • To find your local cooling center, visit here or call 311.
    • New York City Parks has a program called Cool It! NYC. It lists places to help you stay cool, such as drinking fountains, spray showers, and shaded areas. It also shows the areas without shade.
  • To cool yourself down instantly, experts recommend placing an ice cube on your wrist or neck. Cold showers can also help you feel refreshed.

Save energy and money

Hot and humid days exponentially increase electric usage throughout the city. It is vital to conserve energy as much as possible to avoid brownouts and other electrical disruptions. Decreasing your power usage helps ensure that your neighbors who use electric-powered medical equipment or are at risk of heat-related illness and death have uninterrupted service, besides helping your pocket.

  • ConEd has special services and protections for those using life-support equipment.
  • To decrease power usage, keep shades, blinds, and curtains closed to repel unwanted heat from windows.
  • If you have an air conditioner, set it to 78°F or “low,” while making sure to close all doors and windows to keep cool air in and hot air out. Turn it off with all your other appliances when you are not home (unless you have pets). Tell your utility provider if you or someone you know depends on medical equipment that requires electricity. 
  • Run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it is cooler outside to reduce heat and moisture in your home. 
  • For more tips on how to stay cool while reducing your energy costs visit this website.

New Yorkers are also encouraged to stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program. To receive free emergency alerts and updates in your preferred language and format, visit, follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter, or get the free Notify NYC mobile application.

Mariana is a Mexican journalist with experience covering culture, migration, gender, and politics. She has collaborated with media outlets in California, Florida, New York, and Mexico. Mariana is pursuing...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.