Mayor Walsh declares heat emergency, opens 20 BCYF community centers as cooling centers
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today declared a Heat Emergency in the City of Boston in anticipation of the hot and humid weather that is forecasted through Tuesday of next week. Select Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) community centers will be open to the public as cooling centers on Sunday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday, July 20, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when the real feel temperature is expected to range between 96 and 100 degrees.
"Please take the necessary steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 and from the heat and humidity that we expect over the weekend," said Mayor Walsh. "Continue to practice social distancing, avoid crowds, wash your hands often, and wear a face covering. If the face covering causes you to overheat, find a shaded area where you can maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and then remove the face covering so that you can breathe easily and cool down."
Twenty BCYF community centers will be open for residents to use the air conditioned rooms to cool off. Tot sprays are open at playgrounds in the City, with restrictions. Boston Public Libraries and City-operated pools remain closed to the public at this time due to COVID-19 safety measures. A full list of centers including hours of operation is available online.
Due to COVID-19 public health regulations, residents are advised to call before visiting to confirm hours and occupancy limits. All cooling center visitors will be screened before entry and must wear a face covering (covering both the nose and mouth), maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Visitors must bring their own water bottles and water, and must limit belonging to one small bag. Occupancy will be monitored to ensure it doesn't exceed 40 percent of the building's maximum permitted occupancy to maintain proper distancing and the spaces will be regularly cleaned and disinfected hourly.
Information on heat safety tips can be found online at boston.gov/heat and by following @CityofBoston on Twitter. Residents can sign up for Alert Boston, the City's emergency notification system, to receive emergency alerts by phone, email or text. Sign up online here. 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.
- Adults and children should use sunscreen containing an SPF-30 or higher and wear protective, loose-fitting clothing, including long sleeve shirts and hats.
- 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 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.
- Keep cool with showers, shade, and air conditioning or fans. Urban wilds and tot sprays at playgrounds are open in the City. When visiting, residents should wear face coverings (unless in the spray), maintain 6 feet of distance, and wash hands before and after visiting.If it is cooler outside than at home, wear a face covering and find a shady spot outside. If the face covering results in overheating or trouble breathing, find a shaded area where 6 feet of distance from others can safely be maintained and remove the face covering. If no AC is available:
- Take frequent cool showers
- Help find a non-sick family member or neighbor with AC to visit. Wear a face covering and stay 6 feet apart.
- 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.
- Please call or virtually check on neighbors, especially older adults, and people with disabilities.
- If you see homeless individuals out in the heat who appear immobile or disoriented, please call 911. Please ask them if they need assistance.
- 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.
- 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, including the Engagement Center behind 112 Southampton St., remain operating as normal during summertime weather.
- All sites (Shelters, the Engagement Center, comfort stations) are following COVID-19 guidelines by promoting handwashing, hand sanitizer, and face coverings. Guests are provided sunscreen and water. Nursing teams are onsite to support.
- Children should always wear shoes on playgrounds because surfaces can become extremely hot and cause burns, even splash pads and spray decks.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children should wear a face covering (except while in the water), stay 6 feet away from others, and wash/sanitize hands before and after play.
- Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if going to a beach or a large body of water, it is important to wear a face covering, stay 6 feet apart from others, avoid crowds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Don't wear face coverings in the water because they can be difficult to breathe through when they're wet. This means it is particularly important to maintain social distancing in the water. If the face covering results in overheating or trouble breathing, find a shaded area where 6 feet of distance from others can safely be maintained and remove the face covering.
- 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 unattended. When done, 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.