Journal of Community Health

Seema G. Nayak, Shao Lin*, Scott C. Sheridan, Yi Lu, Nathan Graber, Michael Primeau, Claudine Jones Rafferty and Syni-An Hwang


Local agencies in New York State (NYS) set up cooling centers to provide relief from summer-time heat especially for people with limited access to air-conditioning. We aimed to determine cooling center locations in NYS, and explore county agencies’ involvement in organizing and promoting utilization of cooling centers. We conducted a survey among county health and emergency preparedness offices in NYS (excluding NYC) and explored official county websites. We identified 377 cooling centers, mostly in metropolitan areas of NYS. Although 47 % of counties listed locations online, only 29 % reported locations via survey. Radio (90 %) and internet (84 %) were popular for information dissemination. Air-conditioning was available at all indoor cooling center facilities. Cooling centers in 13 % of the counties were accessible by either public transportation or shuttles arranged by the facility. About 38 % counties do not consider cooling centers important in their region or promote informal cooling centers. More than a third of New York counties had neither cooling centers nor plans to establish a cooling center as extreme heat was not perceived as a threat in their region.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates and Staff