The Advance Warning System (AWS) disseminates information to people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs through their service providers. Please share the important information below with your clients and other agencies or individuals to empower them to make informed decisions.

Good morning AWS Partners,

Summer will soon be here, and with it, the possibility of heat waves. In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. With COVID-19 physical distancing measures, we are recommending that New Yorkers – especially those most at risk of COVID-19 complications and heat-related illness – stay home as much as possible. However, during hot weather, staying in homes without air conditioning can increase risk of dying or getting sick from the heat.

The New York City Emergency Management Department urges service providers to take steps to protect clients who may be at increased risk from the heat balanced against the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Please use the Heat Wave Preparedness Checklist to help clients prepare for and stay safe during extreme heat and to help staff recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness.

Identifying Clients at Risk for Heat-Related Illness and Death

People at risk for heat-related illness and death overlap with those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 complications. Specifically, heat vulnerable individuals are those who do not have or use air conditioning AND have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Chronic medical conditions such as heart, respiratory and kidney disease. 
  • Serious mental health, cognitive or developmental conditions, such as schizophrenia or dementia.
  • Obesity.
  • Take medicines which can interfere with the body’s ability to stay safe during hot weather.
  • Have limited mobility or are unable to leave their homes.
  •  Misuse drugs or alcohol.

People with these risk factors should consult with their doctors about potential complications due to extreme heat. Older adults are more likely than younger New Yorkers to have some combination of the risk factors described above. As people get older, their ability to maintain a safe body temperature declines – resulting in an increased risk for heat-related illness. Additionally, individuals who are Black are at a heightened risk for heat-related illness due in part to social and economic disparities including access to air conditioning. Neighborhoods within the Heat Vulnerability Index are more vulnerable to the health impacts of heat than other neighborhoods; visit the NYC Environment and Health Data portal to learn more about the Heat Vulnerability Index, which examines heat vulnerability across our City’s neighborhoods.

Air Conditioner Assistance

For Clients with Air Conditioning At Home:

If a heat-risk client has an air conditioner, encourage them to use it during hot weather. Clients and all users of air conditioners can set air conditioners to 78° or “low” cool to provide comfort, save on electricity costs, and conserve energy. 

For Clients without Air Conditioning At Home:

Air Conditioner Program

This summer, the City will provide 74,000 air conditioners to vulnerable New Yorkers providing cooling for their residence to stay cool during summer heat events. New Yorkers who are 60 years old and older and have income below 60 percent of the state median income, and do not have air conditioning at home are eligible. Eligible New Yorkers will be identified by NYCHA, DFTA, HRA and HPD, and city case managers will reach out directly to income-eligible seniors.

HEAP Program 

If clients do not have an air conditioner, they may qualify for a free one through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Clients who meet income criteria and have written documentation from their healthcare provider verifying their increased risk for heat-related illness may qualify. Income eligibility criteria are available at Please note that funds are limited. Call (212) 331-3126 for more information. 

The Heating Assistance application period has been extended until June 30, 2020.

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income homeowners and renters pay for utility and heating bills. Qualifications for HEAP assistance include: 

  • Your household received a HEAP benefit during the current HEAP program year OR
  • You are currently receiving Temporary Assistance (TA) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Cooling Assistance operates from May to August.

 Qualifications for HEAP cooling assistance include: 

  • Your household received a HEAP benefit during the current HEAP program year OR
  • You are currently receiving Temporary Assistance (TA) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Household member must have a medical condition that is exacerbated by heat.

Cooling Assistance Benefit

The 2019-2020 Cooling Assistance benefit opened May 1, 2020.

If you are eligible, you may receive one Cooling Assistance benefit per applicant household for the purchase and installation of an air conditioner or a fan to help your home stay cool.

In circumstances where an air conditioner cannot be safely installed, a fan will be provided.

Only one air conditioner or fan, not to exceed $800 with installation, will be provided per applicant household. No additional HEAP cash benefits are available.

You may be eligible for a Cooling Assistance HEAP benefit if:

  • Your household's gross monthly income is at or below the current income guidelines for your household size, or
  • You receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or
  • You receive Temporary Assistance (TA), or
  • You receive Code A Supplemental Security Income (SSI Living Alone), and
  • You and your household members are United States Citizens or qualified aliens, and
  • Includes an individual with a documented medical condition that is exacerbated by heat, and
  • You received a regular benefit greater than $21 in the current program year, and
  • You currently do not have a working air conditioner or the air conditioner you have is five years  old or older, and
  • You did not receive a HEAP funded air conditioner within the past five years.
  • Customers can call 212-331-3156 and we will mail them the Cooling Application.

Help clients who are not able to stay cool at home by sharing the following information: 

Remind clients to:

  • Not visit others for cooling relief during a heat wave if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19 and their isolation period has not ended. 
  • Confirm no one in the household they will be visiting for cooling relief during a heat wave is sick or isolating for COVID-19, or at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart and wear a face covering while visiting for cooling relief during a heat wave. 

Do the following while at home:

  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Take frequent cool (not cold) baths or showers for those able to do so safely.
  • Close curtains or shades.
  • Avoid using the oven and eating hot foods/heavy meals.
  • Use natural light when possible. Turn off the lights and other electronics.
  • Pay attention to official government messaging around other alternative cooling spaces available from the City.

Prepare for Power Outages

For individuals who rely on electric-powered medical equipment at home, (e.g., respirators, dialysis machines, apnea monitors), registration with the local utility provider is an important step so that they can be contacted in the event of an emergency. Depending on the utility provider, other programs may be available if clients need extra time to pay their utility bill due to medical conditions.

Registration with the local utility provider is not the only important preparedness step. People who use electric-powered medical equipment should have an emergency plan which includes having:

  • An alternate source of electric power such as a battery backup system and/or backup oxygen tanks.
  • A variety of fully-charged telephone options (landline, cordless, cellular) if possible.
  • Manufacturers’ instructions to follow if clients use generators. Never use a generator indoors. Place generators at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent.

If utilities are included in a client’s rent, they are still eligible to register for this program directly with the utility company.

How to Register with Your Utility Provider

Con Edison (serving all of NYC except the Rockaways):

If you live in Con Edison’s service territory, you may register by calling 1-800-752-6633 (TTY: 1-800-642-2308).

PSEG Long Island (serving the Rockaways):

If you live in PSEG Long Island’s service territory you may register by calling 1-800-490-0025 (TTY: 1-631-755-6660).

Extreme Heat Preparedness Webinar - June 17, 2020, 3 PM

Join this webinar, hosted by NYC Emergency Management with guest speakers from Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, Mayor's Office of Resiliency and other city agencies to learn best practices and resources for you to prepare your community for the upcoming summer months. 

Registration & Event Information:

Information is important to your success. Advance Warning System messages such as these will be sent out to let you know of any potential heat emergencies and if the City is opening cooling centers.

Stay safe this summer!

The Advance Warning System (AWS) alerts organizations who work with people with disabilities and access and functional needs to various types of hazards and emergencies in New York City that may affect people's independence and daily lives. Participating organizations receive public preparedness and emergency information that they can relay to their clients and other similar agencies. If you work for an organization that serves people with disabilities or access and functional needs you can subscribe for AWS Alerts at the following link:

Please do no reply to this e-mail. This mailbox is not monitored. To make changes or receive assistance with your account, please login to the AWS website or contact us through the AWS website. If you think you or someone else may have an emergency, call 911 immediately.

June 09, 2020