Frequently Asked Questions About Cooling Centers

Contact your local officials for information about cooling centers near you.

Cooling centers are air-conditioned facilities where you can go to cool off during extreme heat. The cooling center mapping application is not available at this time. Contact your local officials for information about cooling centers near you. To find information on other ways to stay cool during extreme heat please visit the Extreme Heat page

What is a cooling center?

Cooling centers are places in a community where you can cool down during hot weather, especially if you do not have access to air conditioning. Cooling centers include indoor air-conditioned facilities such as libraries, community and senior centers, schools, and malls. If air-conditioned cooling centers are not available then outdoor recreational areas like local and state parks, beaches, splash pads/spray parks and community pools are other places to cool down.

How can I find the closest cooling center?

Contact your local officials to find a cooling center near you. Always call before you go to make sure the cooling center is open. Other places to cool off include air conditioned supermarkets and buildings, shaded areas of local and state parks or swimming facilities like community pools and beaches. Please contact your local health department at www.health.ny.gov/EnvironmentalContacts if you are unsure about where you can get cool.

Why is spending time in air-conditioned places important?

During hot weather, particularly during multiple days of constant heat, spending at least a few hours in air conditioning each day can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Air conditioning is especially important for vulnerable groups of people, such as older adults, children and people with certain health conditions.

What is heat-related illness?

Heat-related illness occurs when the body is unable to cool itself. The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke (sun stroke), heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Learn more about identifying the symptoms of heat-related illness and first aid response.

What other steps should I take to cool off during extreme heat?

If you cannot get to an air-conditioned place for at least couple of hours a day, take steps to get cool by visiting a shady nearby park, public pool or beach. At home, try spending more time on lower levels of a building where it may be cooler, closing window shades and curtains, drinking plenty of water or nonalcoholic and caffeine-free liquids, taking a cool shower or bath, limiting strenuous activities and trying to avoid using a stove or oven. Visit us at www.health.ny.gov/ExtremeHeat to see all our advice and resources available.

What cooling assistance programs are available if I am considering installing an air conditioner in my home?

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps low-income people pay the cost of heating and/or cooling their homes. You may receive one Cooling Assistance Benefit per applicant household for the purchase and installation of an air conditioner or a fan to help your home stay cool.

You may be eligible to receive a HEAP Cooling Assistance Benefit if:

  • Your gross monthly income is at or below HEAP’s monthly income limits, or you receive SNAP, Temporary Assistance, or Supplemental Security Income Living Alone
  • A household member has a documented medical condition worsened by heat
  • You received a Regular HEAP Heating Benefit greater than $21 this year
  • You have no working air conditioners or your air conditioner is at least 5 years old
  • You have not received a HEAP-funded air conditioner in 10 years

If you are interested in applying to the HEAP Cooling Assistance program or would like to learn more about the eligibility criteria, please visit their website https://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/#cooling-assistance or call 1-800-342-3009.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any questions, please contact us at epht@health.ny.gov and we will be happy to assist you. For local governments who have questions about funding for cooling centers, please visit the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program. The Climate Smart Communities Program offers a 50/50 matching grant program for municipalities to implement projects focused on climate change adaptation, including developing a cooling center.