Bronx Cooling Centers

Bronx Cooling Centers

June 24, 2023   372

Introduction to Bronx Cooling Centers

With the rising heat waves, Bronx cooling centers have become a necessity for New Yorkers. They are places designed to offer respite from the sweltering temperatures and have been serving the community as an essential public service, particularly during the summer.

Importance of Cooling Centers

Role in Heat Waves

Cooling centers play a crucial role during heatwaves. They provide a haven where residents, especially those without air conditioning, can find relief from the scorching heat.

Impact on Vulnerable Populations

These centers are particularly important for vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the sick, and those living in poverty. Their health and even their lives can depend on having access to a cool environment during a heatwave.

Local Residents' Experiences

As the heat and humidity in New York reach dangerous levels, local residents share their experiences and the relief they find in these cooling centers.

Current State of Cooling Centers in NYC

Statistical Overview

On days when the heat and humidity in New York are dangerously high, the city designates more than 500 places as official cooling centers.

Identifying the Issues

However, some neighborhoods that need these centers the most have the fewest per capita, which leads to serious issues in access and equity. This has been observed in central Brooklyn, central Queens, and parts of the Bronx.

Measures in Action

Despite the gaps, steps are being taken to improve the situation, including extending hours at libraries and senior centers, especially in underserved areas.

Case Study: East Flatbush

Population Heat Vulnerability

East Flatbush in Brooklyn is one of the areas most in need of cooling centers. It has a high heat vulnerability rating, which considers social and environmental factors like poverty, park access, and temperature.

Number of Available Centers

Despite the need, East Flatbush had only two cooling centers open during the last heatwave for its 162,400 residents.

Call for Action

The city comptroller has called for immediate action to open more cooling centers in such areas to prevent heat wave deaths.

Cooling Center Services

Libraries as Cooling Centers

In New York City, various types of public spaces, like libraries, serve as cooling centers.

Senior Centers as Cooling Centers

Senior centers, which are critical in offering services to elderly residents, also double up as cooling centers.

NYCHA Facilities as Cooling Centers

NYCHA facilities also provide a cool environment to people during heat waves.

Bronx Specific Cooling Center Scenario

Need for Cooling Centers

Given the increased heat wave risks in areas like the Bronx, there is a pressing need for more cooling centers.

Current Availability

While the city has designated cooling centers, the number per capita varies widely among hot, low-income areas. This leads to accessibility issues for many residents.

What Can Be Improved

The need for more cooling centers in the Bronx, extended hours of operation, and better awareness among the residents are some of the areas that need attention.

How to Access Cooling Centers

Times of Operation

The operation hours of cooling centers depend on the individual facility and are determined by the New York City Agency partners.

How to Find a Cooling Center

To find a cooling center near you, it is advisable to contact the facility directly for accurate information.

Contacting the Facility Directly

Most cooling centers can be contacted directly, which makes it easier for residents to plan their visits and avoid heat-related health risks.

Health Risks of Heat Waves

Recognizing Heat Illness Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of heat illness, such as heavy sweating, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, headache, decreased energy, loss of appetite, or nausea is essential.

Who is Most at Risk

People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, and those without access to air conditioning are most at risk.

Preventive Measures

Staying hydrated, avoiding unnecessary exposure to the sun, and making use of cooling centers are some of the key measures to prevent heat-related illnesses.

The Future of Cooling Centers in NYC

City's Response to Studies

In response to the studies pointing out the gaps, the city has taken steps to address the issue. These include opening more cooling centers, especially in underserved areas.

Proposed Improvements

There is also a call for making the cooling centers easier to find and access for all residents.

Role of Community in Change

Community participation will play a crucial role in implementing these changes effectively and ensuring everyone has access to cooling centers during heat waves.


Bronx cooling centers serve as life-saving havens during the scorching summer months, especially for vulnerable residents. With the pressing issue of heatwave risks, there is an increasing need to address the gaps in accessibility and equity of cooling centers in New York City. The city has begun to respond, but much more work remains to be done. We can hope that, with concerted efforts from the city and community, every resident will have access to a cooling center when they need it the most.


  • What are Bronx cooling centers? Bronx cooling centers are public spaces where residents can find relief from the heat, especially during heatwaves. They are particularly crucial for vulnerable populations like the elderly, the sick, and those living in poverty.

  • Where are these cooling centers located? Cooling centers can be located in various types of public spaces, such as libraries, community centers, senior centers, and NYCHA facilities.

  • Who manages the cooling centers in NYC? Cooling centers are managed by New York City Agency partners, who determine each site's hours of operation and levels of accessibility.

  • What are some of the challenges with the current cooling centers in the Bronx? Some of the key challenges include an insufficient number of cooling centers per capita in certain areas, inconsistent operating hours, and lack of awareness among residents.

  • What steps can be taken to improve the cooling centers in the Bronx? To improve the cooling centers, there could be more centers in underserved areas, extended operating hours, and better communication about their locations and services.



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