What Is Extreme Heat?

Extreme heat is defined as when there are 2–3 days in a row of intense heat and humidity with temperatures 90 degrees or above. This includes days when the temperature “feels like” it is that hot, based on the air temperature and relative humidity.

Extreme heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States. There has been a steady increase in heat-related fatalities over the last few years. 2023 had the highest number of heat related fatalities ever recorded. Approximately 20 New Yorkers die each year because of extreme heat.

Take action now to prepare!
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Be Ready
Prepare for Extreme Heat
Get Free Alerts

NY Alert

Sign up for NY Alert for phone, email and other alerts offered in your local community.

Have a Plan

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Create a family emergency plan and include a plan to stay cool.

Take Training

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Attend a free Citizen Preparedness Corps training for NYS residents on tools and resources to prepare for emergencies.

Before Extreme Heat
Take Steps to Stay Cool
  • If possible, install air conditioners and insulate them.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun and set up fans to increase air flow.
  • Do not rely on electric fans as your main source of cooling - although they may provide comfort, when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, they do not prevent heat related illness
  • If you don’t have access to air-conditioning within your home, identify free locations areas in your neighborhood where you can go to stay cool such as a public library, pool, or mall.

Find a Swimming Beach or Pool

Find a Cooling Center
Cooling Centers
Statewide Cooling Centers

The New York State Department of Health collects information about seasonal cooling centers from local health departments and emergency management offices.

New York City Cooling Centers

The New York City Office of Emergency Management maintains a database of cooling centers and other options for keeping cool.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
Get Help with HEAP
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) can help eligible New Yorkers heat and cool their homes. You may qualify for free air conditioning. Eligible households can apply for a Cooling Assistance benefit for the purchase installation of an air conditioner while supplies last.
During Extreme Heat
Take Action
Stay Cool
Young person wearing tank top, sweating and drying themselves with white towel

 

If possible, stay out of the sun and stay in air-conditioning.

 

Slow down on strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects the heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature.

 

Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20°F within 10 minutes. Limit outdoor exposure time for both children and pets.

 

Stay Hydrated
Person outside near tree with sun behind them as they drink water from a clear bottle.

 

Drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.

 

When working in the heat you should drink one cup (8 ounces) of water every 15 – 20 minutes. That translates to at least 24-32 ounces of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Drinking water at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently.

 

Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.

 

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Salt causes the body to retain fluids, resulting in swelling and affects areas of your body that help you sweat. Persons on salt-restrictive diets should check with a physician before increasing salt intake.

 

Stay Connected

Smartphone with image of NY Alert Extreme Heat Warning

 

Continue to monitor local weather and news stations.

 

Check on your friends, family, and neighbors.

 

People who live alone are at a greater risk for heat illness and death. If you have any family, friends or neighbors who may live alone, connect with them, and invite them to join you in your plan to stay cool.

What to Do
Heat-Related Illnesses
Track athlete bent over and being held by older adult.
In an emergency, the “first responder” is you

Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness and exhaustion and follow this guide to learn what to do if you or a loved one is showing signs.

Symptoms and Treatment for Heat Related Illnesses

Illness

Symptoms

Treatment

Heat stroke (sun stroke)

THIS IS AN EMERGENCY - ACT FAST!

  • Hot, dry, red skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • High body temperature ≥ 105°
  • Loss of alertness
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness or coma
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Cool the person quickly.
  • Bring to a cool place and use a cool bath or sponges, fans and AC.
  • OR
  • Wrap ice packs in cloth and place on neck, wrists, ankles and armpits.
  • OR
  • Remove clothing and wrap the person in cool, wet sheets.
Heat exhaustion
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke so if symptoms worsen or don't improve get medical help.
  • Move the person to a cool place.
  • Loosen clothes and apply cool, wet cloths to the neck, face and arms.
  • Have the person sip water slowly. Provide half a glass of water every 15 minutes up to about 1 quart. Stop giving water if vomiting occurs.
Heat cramps
  • Muscle cramps in the abdominal area or extremities
  • Heavy sweating
  • Mild nausea
  • Move the person to a cool place.
  • Apply firm pressure to the cramping muscle.
  • Gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold it for 20 seconds followed by gentle massage.
  • Have the person drink some cool water.
Heat rash
  • Skin irritation
  • Looks like red cluster of pimples or small blisters
  • Move the person to a cool place.
  • Keep the affected area dry.
  • Have the person use talcum powder to increase comfort.

 

Extreme Heat Affects Everyone
People Most at Risk from Extreme Heat

No matter your age, what kind of shape you are in, or what health conditions you have, the dangers of extreme heat can affect everyone.

The body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature during extreme heat and, without taking proper measures, this can lead to heat-related illness or even death. 

Groups most at risk are:

  • People who work outdoors or indoors without air conditioning
  • Adults aged 60 years and older
  • Infants, children, and those who are pregnant
  • People with chronic health conditions
  • Those with physical and cognitive disabilities
  • Those with no access to air conditioning
  • Individuals who live alone or are unhoused
  • Athletes
  • Pets and service animals
  • People living in cities because asphalt and concrete store heat longer and release heat more slowly at night. This produces higher nighttime temperatures and is known as the "urban heat island effect."
Heat-Related Illnesses
Learn More About Those with Increased Risk
People at Increased Risk for Heat-Related Illness

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Heat Health website provides information on how to help those with a higher risk of getting sick during extreme heat.

FEMA Accessible: Coping with Extreme Heat

This video from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers tips on how to protect yourself from extreme heat.

Want to Know More?
More Resources

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Athletes and Coaches

Heat and Athletes: This Centers for Disease Control website describes how people who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness. It also provides tips for exercising when it's hot outside.

Heat Index Procedures: The New York State Public High School Athletics Association has adopted extreme heat procedures for public high school athletics departments.

 

Heat and Health Data

County Heat and Health Profiles: Help identify populations and neighborhoods at highest risk and help communities prepare for and prevent heat-related illnesses.

Extreme Heat and Health in New York State: The Department of Health presents the latest research on extreme heat and impact on health in New York State.

Heat Stress: Explore data on the percent of heat stress hospitalizations and emergency department visits in New York State due to heat.

Heat Vulnerability Index Maps: Identify areas in the state where people are vulnerable to heat. Heat vulnerability is how likely a person is to be injured or harmed during periods of hot weather.

 

Preparedness

Home and Energy Conservation: If there are power outages during warm weather, you may need to take additional precautions.

Prepare Your Pets: Pets are an important member of the family. Make a plan to protect them from future emergencies today.

Ready.gov: Prepare for extreme heat with these safety tips from Ready.gov.

 

Weather Alerts

DEC Air Quality Index: The AQI is a scale used for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. 

National Weather Service Alerts (NYS): The alerts web page displays NWS watches, warnings, advisories, and similar products for all of NYS.

NOAA NWS Heat Risk: The NWS HeatRisk is an experimental tool that forecasts heat-related risks and impacts.

NY-Alert: NY-Alert is New York State’s free Mass Notification System used to warn citizens of emergencies and critical information in a timely manner to help protect lives and keep New Yorkers safe. 

 

Workers and Employers

Acclimatizing Workers: When the heat index is high, special precautions are needed to protect un-acclimatized workers while they adjust, particularly on the first few days of the job.

Extreme Heat Awareness for Farmers and Livestock: The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets provides several strategies for farmers to mitigate the effects of extreme heat and keep staff and livestock safe.

Heat Illness Prevention: The OSHA Heat Illness Prevention campaign educates employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat.

Protecting Workers from Heat Illness: This info sheet describes measures employers should take to prevent heat-related illnesses for workers required to work in hot environments for long periods.