2006_07_beatheat.jpgThe city's Office of Emergency Management is opening up cooling centers across the city in anticipation of the stifling heat expected today and tomorrow. You can find out where cooling centers are by calling 311 or checking out the OEM website. And when some people from other hot places around the city scoff at our antics during 90-degree weather, the city can actually be 10 degrees warmer than its surrounding areas. The OEM calls this the "urban heat island effect" when the infrastructure of asphalt, concrete and metal traps heat. We were reading the OEM's "Beat the Heat" brochure (PDF) and among the suggestions are not to eat high protein diets and not to take salt tablets - and never leave people or pets locked in parked cars and , of course, drink plenty of water. Plus, try to conserve energy by leaving on only essential appliances (laptop, check; TiVo, check).

Here are tips to stay safe and these are the descriptions of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Heat exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, headache, weak pulse, dizziness, exhaustion, fainting, nausea or vomiting, and cold, clammy skin. Body temperature will seem normal.

Heat stroke: Symptoms include flushed, hot, dry skin, weak or rapid pulse, shallow breathing, lack of sweating, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. Body temperature will be elevated, and victim should receive immediate medical attention.

What really sucks is that while the MTA tells people who feel sick not to get on the train, we feel like many platform conditions encourage the sick feeling - especially when they are 10-20 degrees hotter than the surface.