Preparing for Emergencies in NYC


Ready New York is an initiative of the NYC Office of Emergency Management. Being prepared for any emergency is as simple as planning ahead. Make sure everyone in your home works together to:

  1. Make a plan

  2. Gather emergency supplies

  3. Understand the hazards they may face

For information from Ready New York on how your household can take control in an emergency, visit is a New York State emergency preparedness program that offers a wealth of information on preparing for an emergency.

Notify NYC is a dedicated emergency notification system operating out of the Office of the Emergency Management (OEM). OEM is constantly monitoring emergency activity in New York City and the metropolitan area. Sign up to receive up to nine types of alerts on your iPhone or Android. Enroll here.

People with Disabilities, or Access and Functional Needs

Individuals and caregivers for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs are encouraged to evaluate their necessities in the event of an emergency and create an emergency plan unique to them. 


Some easy ways to create an emergency plan tailored for specific needs: 

  • Collect information Create a paper copy of the contact information including phone, email, and social media information for your family, friends, caregivers, neighbors and other important people or service providers. 

  • Share your emergency plans Tell your employer and trusted people in your support networks where you keep your emergency supplies, what you need, and how to contact you if the power goes out. 

  • Practice Your Plan Dedicate time to practice your emergency plan with your support network, just as you would with a fire drill.      


How to Beat the Heat in Summer

Summer poses risk to health and life. Know the hazards you may face, have a plan to stay safe, and keep informed.

If you are in one of NYC's most heat-burdened communities ― including those outlined in the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI) ― there will be new public cooling elements and refinement of existing programs to serve more residents during extreme heat events.

Older adults are more likely than younger New Yorkers to experience adverse effects from extreme heat because, as we get older, our ability to maintain a safe body temperature declines, putting us at increased risk for heat-related illness. 

Take steps to protect yourself and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat, including vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems.

Free Air Conditioner Program. Don't have an air conditioner? Call the Human Resources Administration at 1-800-692-0557 or 311 to find out if you qualify for a free one through the NYS Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). New Yorkers living in public housing or receiving housing benefits may now qualify.

Cooling Centers. During periods of extreme heat, the City opens cooling centers when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, with a forecasted heat index of at least 95°F for two or more days or 100°F for any period. When the Cooling Center Finder is active, you can find your nearest cooling center by calling 311 or visiting  


NYC Parks Department has added new cooling "elements" in heat-burdened communities. These elements consist of NYC Park's hydrants, sprinklers, spray showers, fountains, and misters. Find ones near you on the new Cool It! NYC map, which also identifies NYC's Leafiest Blocks and Park Tree Canopy: blocks and areas with the most shade.


  • Encourage family, friends, and neighbors who are older or who have heart, kidney or lung disease or other health conditions, serious mental illness, or struggle with substance abuse to use air conditioning. Check on them during heat waves or extreme heat, and help them get to an air-conditioned place if they cannot stay cool at home.

  • During extreme heat, NYC opens cooling centers throughout the five boroughs where New Yorkers can go to cool off.

  • If they do not have air conditioners, encourage family, friends, and neighbors at risk for heat-related illness to find out whether they qualify for a free air conditioner through the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) by calling the Human Resources Administration at 1-800-692-0557 or 311.

  • During extreme heat, the Department of Social Services (DSS) issues a Code Red Alert. During Code Reds, shelter and designated cooling areas are available to anyone experiencing homelessness and heat-related discomfort.

  • DSS staff and the agency’s not-for-profit contracted outreach teams who engage with individuals experiencing homelessness 24/7/365 redouble their efforts during extreme heat, with a focus on connecting vulnerable unsheltered New Yorkers to services and shelter. 


  • Go to an air-conditioned location, even if just for a few hours.

  • Stay out of the sun and avoid extreme temperature changes.

  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours: 11am to 4pm. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

  • Remember: drink water, rest, and locate shade if you are working outdoors or if your work is strenuous. Drink water every 15 minutes even if you are not thirsty, rest in the shade, and watch out for others on your team. Your employer is required to provide water, rest, and shade when work is being done during extreme heat.

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing when inside without air conditioning or outside.

  • Drink fluids, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Those on fluid-restricted diets or taking diuretics should first speak with their doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.

  • Eat small, frequent meals.

  • Cool down with a cool bath or shower.

  • Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, walking in an air-conditioned mall, or swimming at a pool or beach. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The NYC Parks Department has free swimming lessons for kids and adults. Visit here for more information on pool and water safety.

  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and, in apartments where children live, and window guards. Air conditioners in buildings more than six stories must be installed with brackets so they are secured and do not fall on someone below. Window guards can prevent children from falling out of a window and suffering serious injuries or even death. Screens keep mosquitoes that can spread West Nile Virus out of your home and keep cats from falling out of windows.

  • Never leave your children or pets in the vehicle, even for a few minutes.


Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know has:

  • Hot dry skin.

  • Trouble breathing.

  • Rapid heartbeat.

  • Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

If you or someone you know feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.


  • Avoid dehydration: Pets can dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water.

  • Walk your dog in the morning and evening: When the temperature is very high, do not let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Your pet’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.

  • Know when your pet is in danger: Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, unresponsiveness, or even collapse.


  • The improper opening of fire hydrants wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, causes flooding on city streets, and lowers water pressure to dangerous levels, which hamper the ability of the Fire Department to fight fire safely and quickly.

  • Use “spray caps” to reduce hydrant output to a safe 25 gallons per minute while still providing relief from the heat. To obtain a spray cap, an adult 18 years or older with proper identification can go to his or her local firehouse and request one.


During periods of intense electrical usage, such as on hot, humid days, it is important to conserve energy as much as possible to avoid brownouts and other electrical disruptions. While diminishing your power usage may seem inconvenient, your cooperation will help to ensure that utility providers are able to provide uninterrupted electrical service to you and your neighbors, particularly those who use electric-powered medical equipment or are at risk of heat-related illness and death:

  • Set your air conditioner to 78°F or “low.”

  • Run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it is cooler outside to reduce heat and moisture in your home.

  • Close doors to keep cool air in and hot air out when the air conditioner is running.

  • Keep shades, blinds, and curtains closed. About 40% of unwanted heat comes through windows.

  • Turn off air conditioners, lights, and other appliances when not at home, and use a timer or smart technology to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home. Keep air conditioner filters clean.

  • If you run a business, keep your door closed while the air conditioner is running.

  • Tell your utility provider if you or someone you know depends on medical equipment that requires electricity.

For more information, visit New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program. To sign up for Notify NYC, download the free mobile application, visit, call 311, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.


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