Mayor Declares Heat Emergency in Boston, Opens 15 BCYF Cooling Centers
Today, Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency in the City of Boston beginning Saturday, May 21, through Sunday, May 22, due to the hot and humid weather that is forecasted for this time period. Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid 90s.
“We’re working quickly to make sure all of our Boston residents and families are protected during this weekend’s extremely hot weather,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we head into summer, it is clear that earlier, more frequent extreme heat days from a changing climate are a risk to our health and communities. I’m grateful to the many city workers who have started preparations and will be responding to this heat emergency and urge everyone to stay cool and safe, and check on your neighbors over the weekend.”
To help residents stay cool, cooling centers will be open at 15 Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) community centers Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full list of centers can be found online. 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 will be open Saturday. You can register online for a time to swim.
Information on heat safety tips can be found on our keeping cool in the heat website, and by following @CityofBoston on Twitter. Residents can sign up online for AlertBoston, the City's emergency notification system, to receive emergency alerts by phone, email or text. Residents are also encouraged to call 311 with any questions about available City services.
The Mayor issued the following heat safety tips for all members of the public:
- 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 911 immediately. Do not delay care. Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US 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. and 794 Massachusetts Ave. 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 sunscreen and water on outreach routes.
- The Engagement Center will not be open for cooling or related resources.
- 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.