While the heat wave is an inconvenience for many New Yorkers, it can pose significant dangers for the thousands of homeless people living on the streets or in shelters without air-conditioning. Here are some resources to stay cool and safe during the heat wave:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Utilize a Drop-In Center during the day or evening, or enter the shelter at these locations. It is important to note that homeless individuals and families always have a right to shelter in New York City regardless of the weather, but there are expanded outreach and intake rules when Code Red is in effect.
- Call 311 to locate a nearby cooling center. During periods of extreme heat, the City operates free cooling centers in air-conditioned public facilities, with most centers open during the daytime.
Read other tips on staying cool here.
During extreme weather, it is more important than ever that we all look out for our most vulnerable neighbors. If you see a homeless person in need, here are a few ways you can help:
- Unless you feel unsafe doing so, ask if the person is ok, has someplace to go, or needs help.
- Provide information about the above resources or the Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program (GCFP), which offers food and assistance 365 days of the year – even during dangerous weather. Click here for a list of stops.
- Call 311 to let the City know that there is a person in need of emergency shelter. The City partners with nonprofit agencies that will send outreach workers to connect the individual to services.
- If the person seems to require medical attention, call 911 for emergency assistance.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “Extreme heat is marked by temperatures that stay 10° or more above the average high for a region over a period of weeks.” The following information provided by the CDC can help individuals recognize heat-related emergencies:
- Heat cramps are painful spasms of the leg or stomach muscles that may be accompanied by heavy sweating. They do not require medical attention, but the person should stop all activity, sit quietly in a cool place, and drink water, juice, or a sports drink.
- Heat exhaustion is marked by extreme fatigue, heavy sweating, thirst, headache, dizziness, fast and shallow breathing, nausea and vomiting, pale and moist skin, and a fast, weak pulse. If untreated, the symptoms may progress to heat stroke. Cooling measures may include rest in an air-conditioned environment, lightweight clothing, cool non-alcoholic beverages, and a cool shower or bath.
- Heat stroke is a life-threatening hyperthermic condition caused by the breakdown of the body’s thermoregulation. The skin no longer sweats and becomes red, dry, and very hot. Body temperature is above 103°F and can rise rapidly to 106° F in as little as 15 minutes. Chest pain, shortness or shallowness of breath, and abdominal pain may be present along with confusion, anxiety, a rapid pulse, and a throbbing headache. Until emergency medical care arrives, caregivers should start to cool the person rapidly with whatever methods are available: remove extra layers of clothing, fan, wrap in a wet sheet, sponge with any cool liquids, or spray with cool water from a garden hose.