July 6, 2012 – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today warned New Yorkers of health risks from the dangerously hot weather forecast for tomorrow, following several days of hotter than normal weather. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for tomorrow, with temperatures forecast to reach near 100 degrees and humidity that will make it feel even hotter. The Health Department urges New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent serious illness that can result from the heat, especially among vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental disability.
“Prolonged heat exposure can kill,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “There are hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are vulnerable because of age or health conditions. After several days of hotter than normal summer weather and more extreme heat on the way, it is important for New Yorkers check in on your vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they don’t have air conditioning or live alone. Make sure they are in an air-conditioned place and they’re staying hydrated.”
New Yorkers are advised to use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, and drink water at regular intervals. Those going outdoors should limit strenuous activity and avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day.
City cooling centers will remain open through Sunday to help New Yorkers stay cool. Cooling centers are public places, such as Department for the Aging (DFTA) senior centers, and New York City Housing Authority and Salvation Army community centers, where air conditioning is available. To find the cooling center closest to you and to check center hours, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115) or search “Cooling Center Locator” at www.nyc.gov.
FACTS ABOUT HEAT ILLNESS
Heat illness is serious. Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. The added stress caused by heat can also aggravate heart or lung disease even without symptoms of heat
illness. On average, heat waves kill more Americans than other natural disasters. The risk for getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:
· Do not have or do not use air conditioning
· Are age 65 or older
· Have chronic medical or mental health conditions or a developmental disability or dementia
· Take certain medications, which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature
· Are confined to their beds, have trouble with being mobile, or are unable to leave their homes
· Are overweight or obese
· Consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
Know the warning signs of heat stress:
If you (or someone you know) feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.
Call 911 immediately if you have, or someone you know has:
· Hot dry skin OR cold clammy skin
· Trouble breathing
· Rapid heartbeat
· Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness
· Nausea and vomiting
Ready New York - Beat the Heat Tips:
· Use an air conditioner if you have one.
· If you do not have an air conditioner, go to a cooler place such as an air-conditioned family’s, friend’s or neighbor’s home, store, mall, museum, or movie theater, or, visit a cooling center.
· Check on your at-risk family, friends and neighbors often and help them get to a cool place.
· Fans alone will not keep you cool when it is really hot outside.
· Drink plenty of water or other fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
· Conserve by setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and only cooling rooms you are using when you are at home.
· Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car.
· Avoid strenuous activity, or plan it for the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. or in the evening. If you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are used to regular exercise, just keep in mind the symptoms of heat illness when exercising and stop or rest if any occur.
· Bathing or showering with cool (not cold) water can be helpful for those able to do so safely.
Spray Caps & Fire Hydrants:
Opening fire hydrants without spray caps is wasteful and dangerous. Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure, which can cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities and hinder fire-fighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can also push children into oncoming traffic. Call 311 to report an open hydrant.
Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by someone 18 or over, free of charge at local firehouses.
For more information on the health effects associated with extreme heat search “heat illness” at www.nyc.gov/.