Fact: Heat can kill. Some people may just feel uncomfortable when it’s hot, but for others the high temperatures and humid air can cause real harm and lead to untimely death.
Fact: Sick people are more likely to be affected by the heat. When someone suffers from chronic conditions like heart disease or even alcohol addiction, it can worsen the body’s ability to cope with sweltering summers.
Fact: The heat is very much intertwined with economics and social structures. Many heat sufferers are affected much more than others simply because of where they live, their financial situations, or even their ethnicities.
Here are 14 facts about how New Yorkers experience the heat and its effects.
- Heat can kill quickly: Most NYC residents die the same day of being affected by a heat-related illness.
- Heat at home kills: NYC residents are eight times more likely to die from heat at home than on the street.
- Chronic health problems worsen heat’s impact: Most NYC residents who die from a heat-related ailment also suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease.
- So does obesity: More obese NYC residents are more likely to die from a heat related illness.
- And substance abuse: The second most common factor leading to heat stroke in NYC, right behind cardiovascular disease, is substance/alcohol abuse.
- Diabetes is linked to harm from heat: More than one quarter of adults suffering heat-related deaths in NYC in 2013 had a history of diabetes.
- So is mental health: More than one fifth of adults suffering heat-related deaths in NYC in 2013 had a serious mental disorder.
- NYC’s blacks are vulnerable: From 2000 to 2010, nearly 50% of those affected by heat-related deaths were African Americans.
- So are NYC’s elderly women: Female residents above 85 are nearly four times as likely to visit the hospital for a heat-related ailment than men.
- But men are vulnerable too: Almost twice as many males than females died in 2013 from the heat.
- Brooklyn has more heat deaths: The borough had the highest number of heat-related deaths in 2013.
- But Harlem has more heat-related illness: Harlem neighborhoods have a much higher rate of ER visits due to heat stress – as high as 17.6 per 100,000 residents – than the city-wide rate of 9.4 per 100,000.
- Harlem has fewer ACs: Harlem neighborhoods have a lower percentage of adults with air conditioning, between 84.3%-87.2%, than NYC as a whole at 87.7%.
- Harlem seniors have even fewer ACs: Some Harlem neighborhoods, such as East Harlem, have a significantly lower percentage of seniors with air conditioning than NYC as a whole, just 76.8% versus 87.7%.