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Cooling centers open during heat wave

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With temperatures expected to approach 100 this week, the city Office of Emergency Management and city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene opened cooling centers to the community as of Wednesday, July 20.

Cooling centers are held in public places such as senior centers, Salvation Army community centers and New York City Housing Authority locations. They provide an air-conditioned environment so the public can escape these scorching temperatures. To find a cooling center nearest to you call 311, or 212-504-4115. You can also visit www.nyc.gov/oem to use the Cooling Center Locator.

OEM suggests many ways to be safe during this temperature spike. They recommend to stay out of the sun as much as possible, and when in the sun, be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Heat illness can be fatal and extended exposure to the sun aggravates the heart and lungs without any symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, nausea, trouble breathing, confusion, hallucinations or disorientation, contact your doctor immediately.

People younger than 5 and older than 64 are more susceptible to suffering from heat illness. Those with chronic medical or mental conditions, those who take medication that affect the regulation of body temperature, those who are bed-ridden and those who are overweight are also more likely to be severely affected by the heat.

OEM suggests using air conditioners if you have one. They also suggest to use fans at night, to bring in cooler air. Water is the best thing to drink, and avoid sugary drinks and drinks containing caffeine. Wear loose-fitting clothing that covers most of your body, a hat to protect your face and head. And don’t forget sunscreen. Save physical activity for the cooler parts of the day (4-7 a.m.). Sudden temperature changes can cause you to feel dizzy or sick, so if you take a cool shower, make sure to stay cool.

Also remember to be energy-efficient. OEM advises not to set air conditioners lower than 78 degrees. Remember to use air conditioners only when you are home and in rooms that you are using. Having appliances on unnecessarily costs you money and can cause power disruptions. If you’d like a room to be cool before you arrive home, set a timer on your air conditioner for only 30 minutes prior to your expected arrival.

For more tips to cope with the heat visit www.nyc.gov/oem. To learn more about health effects as it relates to heat illness visit www.nyc.gov/health.

Updated 11:59 am, October 12, 2011
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