2017-06-02 / Community

Beat The Heat

By Taisha Khalil & Vanessa Vasquez


Elisaveta Petkova, DrPH from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, talks about health problems caused by high temperatures. Elisaveta Petkova, DrPH from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, talks about health problems caused by high temperatures. Summer is just around the corner and while many are hitting up Rockaway Beach to unwind and relax, the importance of staying protected on the beach is often overlooked.

The Rockaway Institute for a Sustainable Environment presented locals with some very important tips on Wednesday, May 24 about the dangers of smoldering heat. Guest speakers Radley Horton, Elisaveta Petkova, Munerah Ahmed and Emily Accamando presented their findings on staying healthy in the summer months.

This event is the third installment in the climate forum series presented by the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

In presenting the overview, speakers mentioned that when we think of heat, we don’t necessarily see it as major threat. However, the potentially life-threatening dangers of heat waves are not to be taken lightly.


Warning signs of heat illness. Warning signs of heat illness. "Heat waves can be defined in a variety of ways,” said Horton, a Columbia University, climate scientist. “The most common ways for New York is a situation where, for three consecutive days or more, maximum temperatures get above 90 degrees."

Horton also proclaimed that urban cities are often several degrees warmer than surrounding areas due to the presence of heatabsorbing materials and the reduced evaporative cooling caused by lack of vegetation.

A display of various graphs and statistics presented at the forum showed that NYC averages 18 days per year with temps at 90 degrees or above and days at or above 100 are rare (0.6 days per year) with the hottest day recorded in NYC history being 106 degrees on July 9, 1936.

"The most common impacts of heat are heat exhaustion, heat stroke and various types of muscle cramps,” explained Petkova, DrPH from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University. “The higher it gets, based on dangerous levels, then the [more likely] it is for people to experience these dangerous paths."

In order to avoid life or death situations during New York City's sweltering summer temperatures, some protective measures include air con-ditioning, urban heat island mitigation activities such as green roots and tree planting and basic knowledge.

"Education is very important,” added Petkova. “The more we know about heat the more likely we are to protect ourselves and our neighbors."

Other ways to help locals in need this summer is by finding the nearest Cooling Center. These cooling centers are for those who don't own an air conditioner themselves. They can be found in senior centers, community centers, public libraries, Salvation Army facilities, and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation facilities.

If somebody you know is suffering from a heat-related illness, or in need of staying cool this summer, check out www1.nyc.gov/site/em/ index.page for further important tips and information. By taking the time to educate yourself on heat, you are more likely to have a safe and cool summer without falling victim to torridity.

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