Cambridge Heat Emergencies

The Cambridge Heat Emergency Protocol is a coordinated response to assist the elderly who may be vulnerable in a heat emergency.

When Does a Heat Emergency Exist?

In the City of Cambridge a formal heat emergency is declared by the City Manager acting on the advice of the Cambridge Department of Emergency Management and the Cambridge Public Health Department.  The Emergency Manager monitors weather conditions through its emergency notification network.  The Cambridge Council on Aging will also communicate to Emergency Management when there is an increase in calls from elders with heat related problems.

Heat Emergency

If severe heat conditions occur, the Emergency Manager alert the City Manager, the Council on Aging, the Public Health Department, the Police and Fire Departments when a heat emergency is predicted.  The Emergency Manager will notify the media, including Cambridge Cable that a heat emergency exists, and an alert will be broadcast on cable TV.  Community agencies may call the Cambridge Council on Aging (617-349-6220) or the Department of Emergency Management (617-349-4842) to find out if a formal heat emergency has been declared in Cambridge.

The designation of a formal heat emergency will mean that:

  1. Community agencies will more closely monitor at-risk elders;
  2. There will be increased public information about the prevention of heat related illness;
  3. Elders may use the Cambridge Senior Center and the North Cambridge Senior Center as cooling shelters during regular hours of operation. The Council on Aging will not open the Cambridge Senior Center beyond its regular hours of operation, unless, otherwise instructed by City Officials.

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services will activate their heat emergency response whenever the temperature exceeds 90 degrees.  SCES Heat Emergency protocol includes SCES case managers calling and checking on SCES clients who are on the SCES Heat Emergency list.

Much of the planning detailed in this protocol will occur before a formal heat emergency is declared – either as prevention, or in response to calls and requests from the older population.

Central Information Number

The Cambridge Council on Aging will serve as the key agency for elders to call for information and assistance in a heat emergency 617-349-6220 (voice), 617-349-6050 (TTY). The Council on Aging will maintain a comprehensive list of resources for dealing with a heat crisis including contact people, addresses and phone numbers of relevant agencies. The COA central phone number will be publicized in community education to the elderly about heat emergencies. Agencies should alert the Cambridge Council on Aging to any new information and resources, which become available.

The Council on Aging will respond to calls:

  • Mondays 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesdays thru Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 12 Noon.
  • After those hours, a recorded message will deliver basic information about resources, ideas about keeping cool, and about what to do if someone is having a medical problem.

Calls to the COA from elders regarding heat-related issues will be referred for triage to our Information and Referral (I&R) and Case Management. If I&R is not available, calls will go to the Director of Client Services or to the COA Director.

All calls will be screened regarding their primary needs. If the caller’s immediate health or safety is endangered, the I&R or Case manager will arrange for that person to be seen by emergency medical personnel.

Cooling Shelter

Elders may go to the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave. during its regular hours (Mondays 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tuesdays thru Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 12 Noon, and Saturdays 8:30 – 1:00). Elders may also go to the North Cambridge Senior Center, 2050 Massachusetts Ave. during its regular hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 – 5:00). The Council on Aging does not plan to operate the cool shelter after hours, unless ordered by the City Manager.

If an elder has no means of transportation, the Executive Director of the Council on Aging or the Director of Client Services will arrange for transportation to the cooling shelter.

Food and drinks will be available for those using the Center as a cooling shelter during the day.

Source: City of Cambridge