How to stay safe in Boston's heat wave, especially if you're outdoors

A woman puts a scarf on her head to protect herself from the sun in Copley Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman puts a scarf on her head to protect herself from the sun in Copley Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

During the heat emergency in Boston, forecasters project readings in the 90s which, when combined with stifling humidity, may feel like it's over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures, health experts say, are dangerous for the general population, but can be especially harmful to those who spend extended periods of time outside, like workers and people experiencing homelessness.

Here are ways to keep safe if you or anyone else will be outdoors during the heatwave.

Look out for others

Staff at Pine Street Inn, which serves the city's unhoused population, is asking Bostonians to be alert and look out for fellow residents.

"Keep an eye out for folks that are experiencing homelessness and just check in," said Ed Cameron, director of outreach at the shelter. He also advised residents to check on individuals who look distressed and ask if they need to find an indoor space to wait out the heat.

Know the signs of heat illness

Heat-related safety also includes identifying heat stress and helping affected individuals. Keep an eye on individuals having breathing problems, fainting or experiencing heat-related seizures.

Seek a cool refuge

The city has several pools and splash pads, plus it has opened cooling centers at 15 locations, which are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. State-run swimming areas and pools will also have extended lifeguard and operating hours.

Water, shade and breaks

Certain types of workers are also vulnerable to rising temperatures. Heat affects those who spend hours working outdoors, as well as employees of kitchens, laundromats, factories and other facilities that might lack ventilation systems.

Francisca Sepulveda, director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health's Immigrant Worker Center said spending long stretches of time in temperatures higher than 80 degrees is dangerous for workers.

She said workers at risk of heat illness should ensure they're getting enough of these three things: water, shade and breaks. Sepulveda added that drinking water every 15 minutes and seeking shade at 30-minute intervals is essential.

Boston's heat advisory will remain in effect through Wednesday.

With contributed reporting from WBUR's Stevee Chapman and Amy Sokolow.


Irina Matchavariani WBUR Newsroom Fellow
Irina Matchavariani is a newsroom fellow at WBUR.



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