Mayor de Blasio Expands Cool It! NYC to Keep New Yorkers Cool and Safe This Summer
Mayor de Blasio announced an expansion of Cool It! NYC, a plan to help New Yorkers beat the heat this summer. In addition to installing air conditioners for low-income seniors, the City will expand the number of outdoor cooling elements available for New Yorkers to enjoy during extreme heat and refine existing programs to better serve residents in heat challenged areas.
“This summer will be unlike any other in New York City history, and we're focused on safety first,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From spray showers to misters to fire hydrants, we’re getting creative with how our families can stay cool during periods of extreme heat.”
The NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI), developed by the NYC Department of Health and Columbia University, uses social and environmental factors to understand how health risks during and immediately after extreme heat events compare across NYC neighborhoods. HVI helps the City identify and direct resources to neighborhoods at higher risk during extreme heat. The City is prioritizing the most heat-burdened communities (HVI 5/4 zones) for new public cooling elements and refining existing programs to serve more residents during extreme heat events.
“Hot weather can kill and these cooling initiatives are critical to keeping people safe through the summer,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “I also encourage New Yorkers to check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk of extreme heat—especially those with chronic physical and mental health conditions—and help them get to a Cooling Center or another cool place if needed.”
New Cooling Elements & Cool It! NYC Map
To help New Yorkers stay cool this summer, NYC Parks is adding brand new cooling elements within HVI 5/4 zones, and highlighting the existing 950 cooling elements citywide with a new Cool It! NYC map. Parks has identified locations within HVI 5/4 zones where up to 250 new outdoor cooling elements can be added to parks during extreme heat events to create "community oases." These elements will consist of Parks hydrants and other plumbing fixtures that can be adapted to function as spray showers and misting features. By utilizing the map, visitors will be able to find up-to-date information on the closest sprinklers and water fountains in their neighborhood, and with the Leafiest Blocks and Park Tree Canopy categories, easily find Parks' recommendations for blocks and areas with the most shade to help stay cool this summer.
“As the summer heat quickly approaches, and New Yorkers increasingly look to our parks and greenspaces to keep cool, we’re committed to providing new, innovative ways to meet this need,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "Our brand new Cool It! NYC map highlights existing cooling features, our city’s extensive tree canopy, and new outdoor cooling elements that will be activated during heat emergencies. With our new map, it will be easier than ever for New Yorkers to stay safe and beat the heat!”
As cooling elements go online, the Cool It! NYC map will be updated in the coming weeks and activated as necessary during extreme heat events.
“The City is taking a multifaceted approach to ensure our most vulnerable New Yorkers are prepared to beat the heat this summer. From expanding the spray cap program to adding new cooling elements in parks and creating street oases, we are dedicated to providing equitable access to safe cooling options in communities that are mostly at risk of the adverse effects of extreme heat,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell.
Spray Cap Expansion
During heat advisories, DEP and FDNY will proactively install spray caps on 320 hydrants in HVI 4/5 zones, which will help more New Yorkers in these zones get within 1/4-mile walk of a spray feature.
“Opening hydrants without a sprinkler cap can dramatically lower the water pressure needed to fight fires and save lives, which is why we are partnering with NYC DEP to identify hydrants across the city and install sprinkler caps during periods of extreme heat this summer,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Water is the most important resource our Firefighters have to battle fires in our city, and this program will ensure New Yorkers can stay cool without impacting the safety of our members and those they serve.”
DEP will partner with NYC Service to engage organizations and volunteers to act as spray shower stewards to help expand access to the program. FDNY will continue to work with community residents to activate hydrant spray showers, while collecting information about the number, location and activation frequency of hydrant spray showers to help inform future iterations of the Outdoor Cooling Plan.
Cool Streets and Street Oases
Through the Open Streets initiative, the City will designate certain Open Streets as “Cool Streets.” These “Cool Streets” will open up blocks with tree-based shade and hydrants as part of DEP’s Cool Hydrant and spray cap program. The first set of “Cool Streets” will be announced in the coming days.
"This summer will be unlike any other. We've come prepared with a plan that puts climate justice into action by prioritizing our most heat-vulnerable communities, many of which have already been hit hard by the pandemic," said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor's Office of Resiliency. "By taking a multi-pronged approach that includes both indoor and outdoor cooling options, we are maximizing the ways New Yorkers can stay safe, comfortable, and hydrated this summer."
Additionally, DOT will work with their established partners to add new outdoor cooling features to their popular Plaza, Seasonal Streets and Weekend Walks programs. DOT will prioritize sites within high Heat Vulnerability Index zones for new cooling elements.
Reusable Bottle Distribution
DEP will create a reusable water bottle distribution program to promote reusable bottles and remind New Yorkers to stay hydrated. The City will provide 15,000 bottles to elected officials, community boards and partner organizations to distribute citywide.
“NYC water is cool, refreshing and healthy – and this summer we are working with elected officials, community groups and partner agencies to ensure all New Yorkers can benefit from the champagne of tap water,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Reusable water bottles will help keep people hydrated while the popular fire hydrant spray cap program provides a safe way to stay cool while also maintaining adequate pressure in our water mains for firefighters and hospitals.”
Update On Air Conditioners
The City reached out to close to 330,000 eligible seniors, and more than 37,000 seniors opted-in to receive an air conditioner, including 23,200 seniors in private homes and 14,000 seniors in NYCHA buildings. The City has installed a total of 18,274 to date, including 10,362 in private homes and 8,597 in NYCHA buildings. The City’s daily installation rate is close to 1,500 per day.
"As the summer heats - and New York City continues to reopen - we need to give New Yorkers all the resources and opportunities to stay cool and safe these next few months," said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. "Whether it's providing thousands of air conditioners to our senior citizens or more spray showers for our children in playgrounds and parks across this city, this Administration will ensure all New Yorkers have plenty of options to beat the heat."