After sitting in her un-airconditioned fifth-floor apartment as the temperature surpassed 90 degrees Fahrenheit for several days in a row, 69-year-old Helen called 911.
“I couldn’t deal the heat,” she says with some difficulty. “It was too hot for me, and then I had feel weak.”
An ambulance brought her from her building in East Harlem to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was admitted for heat exhaustion. She has a few medical issues, including a stomach problem. And her daughter says she’s stubborn: She doesn’t drink water when she knows she’s supposed to.
“My head start to hurt, and then I start to throw up and I had feel a little dizzy a little,” says Helen, a fictitious name made up to protect her privacy.
She talks from the hospital bed with her eyes closed. She doesn’t want to leave the hospital and go back to her hot apartment.
“Oh, God. The fan ain’t doing no good, at all,” Helen says. “With this heat? No, I can’t do that.”
Elderly people like Helen, young children and others with pre-existing medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat. Public health professionals say air conditioning — even just a couple minutes of it — is the best way to lessen the effects of extreme heat. Continue reading