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Extreme Heat Resources

Helpful Information for Older Adults and Caregivers to Stay Safe in the Heat
Extreme Heat Information for Older Adults and Caregivers


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extreme heat is increasing in the United States and is projected to be more frequent and intense. This poses a serious threat to older adults and those with chronic diseases who are at the highest risk for heat-related illness. While serious health and safety effects are preventable in many cases, approximately 1,220 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year, the CDC reports.

According to the CDC, factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:

  • High levels of humidity
  • Obesity
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Prescription drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Poor circulation
  • Sunburn
  • Alcohol use 


What should I do before a heat wave?

  • Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating; cold, pale, and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; muscle cramps; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; headache; fainting (passing out). For other symptoms of heat-related illness, see the CDC website here
  • Make sure that you can open your windows and/or that your air conditioner is working properly.
  • Find out where to cool down – the New York State Department of Health has information about cooling centers here. If there are none, identify air-conditioned buildings where you can go (such as libraries, malls, supermarkets, or friends' homes).
  • Choose someone that you can call for help or who can check on you.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about medications that might make you sensitive to the sun or heat.


What can I do during a heat wave?

  • Use air conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building.
  • If you don't have air conditioning in your home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try to cool it down. Individuals who are eligible can apply for cooling assistance through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). 
  • Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water (at least 2-4 glasses of water per hour during extreme heat), even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Beat the heat with cool showers and baths.
  • Take regular breaks from physical activity.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g., straw or mesh) when in the sun, even if it is cloudy.
  • Never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes.
  • Check on your neighbors, family and friends, especially those who are older or have special needs.


Places to Get Cool 

New York State pools and beaches across the New York State Park system are available for individuals to cool off during hot days this summer. View the full list of statewide swimming lakes, ocean beaches and pools. Call ahead to confirm hours.

Additionally, the New York State Department of Health collects information about seasonal cooling centers from local health departments and emergency management offices. For more information and to find a Cooling Center near you, go here.

For further information on how to stay safe during periods of excessive heat, please visit the New York State Department of Health website or the CDC website.



New Yorkers can subscribe for NY-Alert to receive critical information and emergency alerts on what is happening in their area, including information about weather-related events. NY-Alert contains critical, emergency-related information including instructions and recommendations in real-time by emergency personnel. Information may include severe weather warnings, significant highway closures, hazardous material spills and other emergency conditions. Learn more and sign up at

Lastly, for information on long term care services and supports for older adults and caregivers, please visit NY Connects or call 1-800-342-9871.