Fire hydrant
(Photo credit: Phil Roeder / Flickr )

On a sweltering summer day in New York City, low-income people may suffer the most – especially in public housing. The tall brick buildings absorb heat, there is little green space, and many people do not have air conditioning.

Ahmed: “You have extreme heat and people who don’t have access to air conditioners … and it’s unbearable.”

Lubna Ahmed is with a Harlem-based nonprofit called WE ACT for Environmental Justice. She says extreme heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be dangerous.

Ahmed: “Dehydration and things like that are just scratching the surface. I’m talking about chronic health conditions that somebody may have that are then exacerbated by the heat.”

Such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.

During heat waves, New York City opens cooling centers in libraries and other public buildings. But a lot of people do not know about them. So WE ACT has developed signs to direct people to the cooling centers.

WE ACT also advocates for programs that help people afford A/C at home because sick people or the elderly may not be able to get to a cooling center.

And for them, the ability to stay cool could be a matter of life or death.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.