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What does a heat emergency in Boston actually mean?

It's basically summer refusing to end.

JQ Louise
Cheryl Fenton
Edited by
JQ Louise
Written by
Cheryl Fenton

Today, Boston is celebrating its 393rd birthday by turning up the heat. Literally.

Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency beginning Thursday, September 7, through Friday, September 8, thanks to high temperatures in the 90s, with the heat index expected to reach the high-90s. 

But you don’t have to swelter alone. To help residents stay cool, cooling centers will be open at 15 Boston Centers for Youth & Families community centers both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full list of centers can be found here. Additionally, 64 splash pads will be open at parks and playgrounds throughout Boston (you can find the list here). Boston Public Library locations are also available for residents to seek relief from the heat.

“The impacts of climate change are more palpable than ever, with extreme heat posing risk to our communities,” said Mayor Wu in a statement. “Although extreme heat affects Bostonians of all ages, with the new school year starting, our Boston Public Schools staff will be following protocols to ensure our kids have an enjoyable, safe first week back at school. I’m grateful to our City employees who are working tirelessly to support residents, and ask residents to take precautions.”

Extreme heat can be dangerous to health by itself, but it can also make pre-existing health issues worse. Because some areas in Boston are hotter due to elevation, limited shade from trees, and heat-retaining structures, like buildings and roads, the Mayor has 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 a.m. to 3 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 9-1-1 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.

For our top tips on places to cool off read our guide to the best pools in Boston and the best beaches near Boston

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