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Northeast Prepares For Heat Wave

Composite image by Dave Lucas/WAMC

The Northeast is gearing up for a heat wave that is setting up to run through the 4th of July, the likes of which we haven't experienced in some time. Authorities are issuing advisories and offering tips on dealing with the heat.

Beat the heat, stay inside, drink plenty of water, check on elderly neighbors and know where cooling stations are located in your neighborhood – bits of advice being passed on by power companies, medical experts and meteorologists, like Newschannel 13’s Paul Caiano.  "We haven't had a heat wave that has extended to this length, once it happens, for several years..." 

Last time a heat wave rolled through the region it was 2013. Temperatures are expected to soar into the upper 90's.   "The temperatures aren't just 90s, they're in the middle 90s or they will be. And, even though it's only a few degrees when you factor that in with the humidity, the extended period of temperatures at that level is something that we haven't felt in quite a while."

Factor in the heat index, which measures combined heat and humidity, and it will feel more like 105 to 107 degrees. Like other agencies across the Northeast, the Clinton County Health Department is urging residents to prepare for the extreme heat by staying cool, hydrated and informed. Jennifer Trudeau is a public health educator with Clinton County:  "The high temperatures and heat indexes can absolutely pose some serious health risks, especially for certain populations. Some of the certain groups that should be extra cautious include older adults, those ages 65 and older, infants and children, individuals with chronic medical conditions, those in low-income areas, athletes and those who work outdoors."

Physicians at Albany Medical Center's Emergency Department say heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most serious forms of heat-related illness, and both can be fatal. They recommend staying hydrated and limiting strenuous activity.  New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen:  "You shouldn’t wait until you feel like you’re thirsty, we should be drinking water around the clock. Don’t use the stove or oven when you’re cooking. Make sure you’re eating fruits and vegetables instead of high proteins, which can actually increase your water loss.  For older New Yorkers, some of the real easy things would be to make sure you’re on the first floor of your building if possible where it’s a little bit cooler. Keep the shades down so that the inside temperature stays down. And put your feet in water which will help cool down, and also use things like the shower or washcloths so you can get wet.”

  • Tune in regularly to local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra precautions.
  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Do not rely on a fan only as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
  • Drink more water than usual. Don't wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
    • If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. While outdoors, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
  • Do not leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked vehicle during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make sure there is enough food and water for pets.
  • Regularly check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have or someone you know has symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat causes more than 600 preventable deaths in the United States annually.

If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately and attempt to lower their body temperature by moving them to a cool place or wrapping them with cool towels.

Fans and air conditioners will be working overtime during the heat wave. Springfield, Massachusetts-based Eversource Energy spokesman Frank Poirot advises putting off washing clothes and dishes until after sundown.   "The other benefit, not only to keeping the interior of your house a little more comfortable is that, it also takes some of the load or the strain off the electric system too. One of my favorite tips to help keeping the interior of the house cool, particularly during the day is draw your blinds or shades, drapes, whatever you have, to slow down the radiational heating of the sun. I found this works great in our house and it's just a very simple thing to do to keep the interior of your house more comfortable as we get into these really hot days."

  • Increase the temperature on air conditioners.  Keep air conditioners set at a moderate temperature throughout the day; cranking the unit up after work uses more electricity. Programmable thermostats or temperature timers can also help keep costs manageable, especially when away from home.
  • Keep air conditioner filters and coils clean.  Clean air conditioner filters and coils at least every three months. Dirty filters block air flow, reducing efficiency and making it harder to deliver the cool air.
  • Don’t block air flow.  Keep air vents clear of obstructions such as furniture, curtains and rugs.  For those with central air and floor vents, consider using vent deflectors to direct and increase the reach of cooled air.

Now, some people will be heading to the beach or the water. The New York State Park Police have announced stepped-up enforcement as part of the nationwide awareness and enforcement campaign, Operation Dry Water.  This weekend State Park Police are warning boaters that additional officers will be patrolling state waterways and will have numerous checkpoints set-up saying there will be zero tolerance for anyone boating under the influence of alcohol.
If you have pets, experts recommend keeping them cool by bringing them indoors during the hottest times of day, and making sure they have plenty of water. 

Cooling Centers

If your home does not have air conditioning, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website or call NY Connects at 1-800-342-9871 to find a cooling center near you.

Cooling center locations are also available on NYSOFA’s first in the nation aging services mobile app, which connects older adults and their families with vital services and information in their communities. This free app is available for download on iOS devices and Android devices.

Springfield, MA – Mayor Sarno and Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Helen R. Caulton-Harris, announced today that the City of Springfield will open Cooling Centers in the City on Friday, June 29th to Monday, July 2nd. The sites are:



Days and Hours


359 Plainfield St.

Friday, 9am - 5pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

East Forest Park

122 Island Pond Rd

Friday, 10am - 5pm

Saturday, 11am – 3pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

East Springfield

21 Osborne Terr

Friday, 1pm - 5pm

Saturday, 11am – 3pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

Forest Park

380 Belmont Ave.

Friday, 1pm - 5pm

Saturday, 11am – 3pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

Indian Orchard

Library Express at Pine Point

44 Oak St.

204 Boston Rd.

Friday, 1pm - 5pm

Saturday, 11am -3pm

Monday, 10am – 5pm

Friday, 1pm – 5p

Monday, 1pm - 5pm

Mason Square

765 State Street.

Friday, 1pm - 5pm

Saturday, 11am - 3pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

Sixteen Acres

1187 Parker St.

Friday, 1pm - 5pm

Saturday, 11am – 3pm

Monday, 1pm – 5pm

Additional Site:

Clodo Concepcion Center

Hungry Hill Senior Center

1187 1/2 Parker St.

773 Liberty Street

Friday, 9am - 8pm

Saturday, 9am - 8pm

Sunday, 9am – 8pm

Friday, 8am - 4pm

Saturday, 9am – 8pm

Sunday, 9am – 8pm

Raymond A. Jordan Senior Center

Riverview Center

1476 Roosevelt Ave.

122 Clyde Street

Friday, 8am – 4pm

Saturday, 9am – 8pm

Sunday, 9am – 8pm

Monday, 9am – 4pm

Saturday, 9am – 5pm

Sunday, 9am – 5pm

For more energy saving tips or to learn more about National Grid energy efficiency programs click here.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.