As NYC endures heat wave, the Bronx continues community celebrations

heat wave
=The first major heat wave of 2024 swept through New York City this week.
Photo via Getty Images

The first major heat wave of 2024 swept through New York City this week, bringing record-breaking temperatures through the weekend. Amid yet another summer of intense heat, Bronx residents have continued to celebrate both Pride Month and Juneteenth across the borough despite being part of the city’s most heat-vulnerable community districts.

The National Weather Service released an updated heat advisory with expected temperatures of at least 90 degrees until Sunday. The extreme heat is also affecting New Yorkers’ air quality, which reached levels deemed “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” according to an AQI forecast for Wednesday and Thursday earlier this week. The Bronx remains the most vulnerable borough in a yearly trend of rising summer temperatures

“We’ve said it over and over again that heat is a silent killer and it poses a significant threat especially to our most vulnerable residents, adults ages 60 and older, young children, those with preexisting health conditions like health disease, diabetes, mental health conditions, or cognitive impairment,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.

Extreme heat is the city’s most dangerous weather phenomenon, as an estimated 350 New Yorkers a year die because of hot weather according to a 2024 NYC Heat-Related Mortality Report. Of those, 340 deaths on average are “heat-exacerbated,” where the heat aggravates an underlying health condition. The Bronx continues to rank last out of the 62 counties in New York for heart healthiness, according to the American Heart Association. 

According to data from the NYC Health Department, six of the 10 Bronx neighborhoods where heat-related deaths are most likely to occur are in the South Bronx.

Screenshot courtesy of NYC Health Dept. 

In the South Bronx, high rates of heart disease and lack of access to working air conditions make residents more susceptible to heat-exacerbated deaths. 

“In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur within homes lacking air conditions, often due to limited access or financial constraint. This vulnerability disproportionately is experienced by Black New Yorkers who are twice as likely as white New Yorkers to succumb to heat-exacerbated mortality,” said Iscol.

Schools in the South Bronx are working with the Dept. of Health for best practices in the heat wave such as reducing outdoor activity and using air conditioning as often as possible. According to News 12, all schools in the AC for All Initiative have been equipped with proper air conditioning ahead of the heat advisories. 

This week also saw outdoor Juneteenth celebrations in the Bronx, despite the heat.

Van Cortlandt Park Alliance was one of many organizations that brought the Bronx community together on Wednesday in its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration. More than 100 attendees enjoyed an evening of spoken word and musical performances. 

Photo by Layla Hussein 

Juneteenth cookouts and block parties are still happening across the Bronx and greater New York City areas,  as Staten Island Community Alliances’ 4th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival is scheduled for this weekend. The Bronx has also celebrated pride all month, with hundreds of residents expected to join Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson this weekend for an annual pride march. 

In light of continued community celebrations, New York City health officials continue to share best practices to stay safe during heat waves. Click here to find cooling centers across New York City.

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