State Health Department, Office of Emergency Management Advise New Yorkers to Protect Themselves Against Excessive Heat

ALBANY, NY (June 20, 2012) -- With temperatures forecast to climb into the 90s over the next couple of days, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) offer New Yorkers tips to help them stay safe.

"Although warm temperatures are a welcome sign of summer, when it gets excessively hot for long periods of time, your health can be jeopardized," said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "Heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly, infants and young children, people with respiratory ailments or chronic medical conditions, and those who work outdoors. It is important to take steps to keep cool when temperatures are high, to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and to know what to do when you or someone else exhibits these symptoms."

"To help lessen the chances of heat-related distress, take actions such as drinking plenty of fluids, staying out of the sun and in air-conditioned settings, if possible, and wearing light-colored clothing," Steven Kuhr, Director of State OEM said. "It is also important to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing health problems."

To help you stay safe during excessive heat, DOH and OEM offer this advice:

  • Minimize, if possible, strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Exercise during early morning hours or in the evening--when the temperatures tend to be lower.
  • Drink at least 2-4 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 seek air-conditioned settings. The sun heats the inner core of your body, which may result in dehydration. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a building with air conditioning (such as libraries, malls, supermarkets, or friends' homes).
  • If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor (SPF) rating of at least 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 car or other vehicles 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.
  • Make an effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially the elderly, infants and young children, or others with special needs.
  • Make sure there is enough water and food for pets and limit their exercise during periods of extreme temperatures.


  • Elderly persons, infants and small children. Persons with weight or alcohol problems Persons on certain medications or drugs.


Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke can be life threatening. Body temperature can rise and cause brain damage; death may result if the individual is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. A cold bath or sponge can provide relief and lower body temperature.

Heat Exhaustion: While less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion poses health concerns and it most often occurs when people exercise too heavily or work in warm, humid places where body fluids are lost. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. If symptoms occur, move the victim out of sun, and apply cool, wet cloths.

Sunburn: Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Signals include redness and pain; in severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever, and headaches can occur. Ointments can be a relief for pain in mild cases. A physician should see serious cases. To protect yourself, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (SPF) of at least 15. Always re-apply sunscreen after periods of heavy sweating or swimming.

Heat Cramps: Muscular pains and spasms are often caused by heavy exertion. Loss of water and salt from sweating causes cramping. Signals are abdominal and leg muscle pain. Relief can be firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massages to relieve cramping. Remember to hydrate often while exercising or working outdoors.

Heat Rash: Skin irritation that looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. Try to move the person to a cool place, keep the affected area dry, and have the person use talcum powder to increase comfort.


  • Power outages are more likely to occur during warm weather, when utility usage is at its peak. To avoid putting a strain on the power grid, conserve energy to help prevent power disruptions.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Only use the air conditioner when you are home.
  • Turn non-essential appliances off. Only use appliances that have heavy electrical loads early in the morning or very late at night.

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