Wu Declares Heat Emergency Starting Aug. 4; Opens 16 BCYF Cooling Centers to Residents

Special to the Sun

Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency in the City of Boston beginning tomorrow, August 4 through Sunday, August 7, due to the upcoming weather forecasts. High temperatures will reach into the 90s, with the heat index expected to reach high 90s to over 100 degrees.

“We’re working quickly to make sure all of our Boston residents and families are protected during this week’s extremely hot weather,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I urge everyone to stay cool and safe, and check on your neighbors during the week. I’m thankful for the many City employees who are preparing for this emergency and will be responding to calls for service throughout our neighborhoods.”

To help residents stay cool, cooling centers will be open at 16 Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) community centers through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A full list of centers can be found at boston.gov/heat. Due to the rising COVID-19 case count, the use of masks in cooling centers is strongly recommended. Additionally, splash pads will be open at parks and playgrounds throughout the City. Select indoor BCYF pools and the outdoor BCYF MIrabella Pool in the North End are open. Registration for a time to swim can be found at this link.

Anyone, regardless of their medical conditions, can feel the impacts of extreme heat. During last month’s heat wave Boston EMS experienced a 15-20% rise in daily calls to 9-1-1.

“We strongly encourage people to increase hydration and avoid outside activities during the hotter parts of the day, from 11am-6pm,” said Boston Emergency Medical Services Chief James Hooley. “With multiple days of high heat, we see people of all ages, including the young and healthy, who are affected by the heat.”

The City of Boston is taking critical immediate action to provide heat relief, including short-term, actionable steps toward relief during heat waves. The City of Boston has been engaging in a variety of catalytic projects to support extreme heat mitigation and improved health for residents. This includes the distribution of pop-up cooling kits with a hose, misters, and a tent to community organizations that have public events this summer.

Boston Public Library locations are available for residents to seek relief from the heat. The East Boston and Egleston Square branches recently installed misters in their outdoor free WiFi zones.

The Boston Public Schools is encouraging students and their families to prepare for hot weather this week by staying well hydrated and dressing appropriately. Families are welcome to send their children to their respective summer programs, which will provide students with water and meals. Additionally, the majority of summer sites are equipped with air conditioning and fans will be delivered to sites in need of cooling.

Information on heat safety tips can be found online at boston.gov/heat and by following @CityofBoston on Twitter. Residents can sign up for AlertBoston, the City’s emergency notification system, to receive emergency alerts by phone, email or text. Sign up online here. Residents are also encouraged to call 311 with any questions about available City services.

The Mayor issued the following heat safety tips:

• Children and pets should never be left alone in vehicles, even for short periods of time.

• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids regardless of activity level. Avoid alcoholic beverages and liquids high in sugar or caffeine.

• Keep cool with frequent cool showers, shade, and air conditioning or fans.

• Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas and be extra cautious from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is strongest.

• Know the signs of heat exhaustion. Heavy sweating, cool and clammy skin, dizziness, nausea, and muscle aches could all be signs of heat exhaustion. If symptoms persist, call 911 immediately. Do not delay care. Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. and can exacerbate underlying illnesses.

• Adults and children should use sunscreen containing an SPF-30 or higher and wear protective, loose-fitting clothing including long sleeve shirts and hats.

• If you have a child in your home, use child window guards in addition to screens on any open window on the second story or above. Falls are the leading cause of injury for children under the age of six.

• Secure all window air conditioner units according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

• If you are heading to a beach, lake, or pool to beat the heat, swim where lifeguards are present. Always watch children near the water and make sure they’re wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

• Please call or check on neighbors, especially older adults and people with disabilities.

Please keep pets indoors, hydrated, and cool as asphalt and ground conditions are significantly hotter and unsafe during heat.

Helping Individuals Experiencing Homelessness:

If you see individuals out in the heat who appear immobile or disoriented, please ask them if they need assistance and call 911 immediately.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) operates emergency shelters at 112 Southampton St (men’s shelter) and 794 Massachusetts Ave (women’s shelter). These facilities are air conditioned and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Amnesty has been called because of extremely high temperatures so those with non-violent restrictions can access shelter out of the heat.

The City of Boston works closely with a network of shelter providers to ensure there is adequate shelter, food, water, and a cool respite from the heat.

Street outreach teams providing recovery services remain operating as normal during summertime weather. Outreach teams are providing water on outreach routes.

The Engagement Center at 112 Southampton Street, run by BPHC, will be open and provides air conditioning, showers, and beverages from 8AM – 5PM, seven days a week. 

Playground Safety: 

Shoes should be worn outdoors, including playgrounds and turf athletic fields, as  surfaces can become extremely hot and cause burns, even on splash pads and spray decks.

Outdoor Fires and Grilling:

No outdoor fires are allowed in Boston, including fire pits, chimineas, and bonfires.

Charcoal grills must be on the ground and away from buildings. Keep in mind the wind and never leave grills unattended. Dispose of the ash in a metal container once completely out.

Propane tank grills are only allowed on first floor porches with steps to the ground. Do not place propane tank grills near air conditioners or up against a building. Make sure all connections are tight and never carry propane tanks into a home.

Grills should always be used in a well-ventilated area.

Mayor Wu recently announced Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston, a citywide framework to prepare Boston for hotter summers and more intense heat events. The Heat Plan presents 26 strategies that will help build a more just, equitable, and resilient Boston. To support the implementation of the Heat Plan, the City will launch the Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force, which will help deliver a unified, all-of-government response to address chronic high temperature conditions and prepare the city in advance of extreme heat events. The Task Force’s work will be supported by the Environment Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Public Health Preparedness with the goal of collaboratively protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of Boston residents facing increasing temperatures and other climate risks.

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