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Extreme Heat

Heat related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this, hundreds of people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. Below, you will find helpful tips, information, and resources to help you stay safe in the extreme heat this summer.

Place to Stay Cool in Erie County

When the heat rises, there are many places to go to cool down!  Find a list of places to stay cool in Erie County at

What is Extreme Heat?

Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average. Because some places are hotter than others, this depends on what’s considered average for a particular location at that time of year. Humid and muggy conditions can make it seem hotter than it really is.

What Causes Heat-Related Illness?

Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.

Some factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:

  • High levels of humidity
  • Obesity
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Prescription drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Poor circulation
  • Sunburn
  • Alcohol use

Who is Most at Risk?

Older adults, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.


The high activity levels of dogs, in particular, make them incredibly vulnerable to the heat.

DON'T EVER leave your pet alone in a car, even if the windows are cracked open.  If you see a pet in a hot car, call 911 immediately.  See Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time which shows how quickly the temperature inside your car rises.

Don't leave your pet in the carHere are some tips for keeping your dog safe in the sun:

Learn the signs of heat exhaustion. Excessive panting, a dark purple-red tongue, and redness around the eyes are all signs that a dog may need a serious cool-down. Short-nosed dogs like boxers, bulldogs, and French bulldogs are most vulnerable.

Walk earlier and shorter. Go out before and after the peak heat of the day, and avoid too-hot pavement. Stylish booties to protect paws are a great option.

Be generous with water. A pet's drinking water should be supplied in plastic bowls that don’t trap the heat and that are constantly available during outside exercise or play. Consider setting up kiddie pools or sprinklers for dogs to run around in. The easier it is for them to access a way to cool down without your help, the better.

summer heat newsletter

Click here to read this newsletter which is available in many languages.


Low Income

  • If you see someone in need, call 211 to have an outreach team dispatched
  • Free Air Conditioner - call 1-800-342-3009 to find out if you are eligible to receive one through a Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Cooling Assistance Benefit Program
  • To receive Code Blue updates for the City of Buffalo, text CodeBlueBuffalo to 898-211
  • WNY Coalition for the Homeless
  • Homeless Alliance of WNY

Infants and Children

DON'T EVER leave infants or children alone in a car, even if the windows are cracked open. If you see a child in a hot car, call 911 immediately.  See Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time which shows how quickly the temperature inside your car rises.

Outdoor Workers

If the Power Goes Out Generator Safety

If you need temporary power to provide cooling or refrigeration, be sure that portable generators are placed outside and at least 20 feet from any doors or windows. Exhaust from portable generators contains deadly carbon monoxide.

Heat and Health Data

  • Heat Stress: Explore data on the percent of heat stress hospitalizations and emergency department visits in NY State due to heat.
  • County Heat and Health Profiles help identify populations and neighborhoods at highest risk and help communities prepare for and prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Heat Vulnerability Index Maps identify areas in the state where people are vulnerable to heat. Heat vulnerability is how likely a person is to be injured or harmed during periods of hot weather.
  • Extreme Heat and Health in NY State presents the latest research on extreme heat and impact on health in New York State.

Additional Resources