Even though summer is not officially here until June 20, temperatures are already on the rise in New York. If you’ve got problems with your air conditioning that your landlord hasn’t addressed yet, that means a sweltering apartment and the possibility of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
Heatstroke vs. Heat Exhaustion
Both heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious illnesses, and require immediate attention. In fact, heatstroke is a medical emergency. Here are the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
- Body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Losing consciousness
Heat exhaustion can be treated by moving the individual to a cool place, loosening their clothes, having them sip water, and putting cool wet cloths on them (or having them take a cool bath). If the symptoms get worse, last longer than an hour, or if the victim is vomiting, call 911.
If heatstroke is suspected, call 911 immediately. While you are waiting for help to arrive, you can move the victim to a cool place and try to lower their body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath. Do not, however, allow the victim to drink anything.
Ways to Prevent Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion in NY
Although heatstroke and heat exhaustion are serious illnesses, they are preventable with the proper precautions. Take these steps to protect yourself when the weather is hot:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
- Wear sunscreen
- Ease up during the hottest parts of the day (11am – 4pm)
- Do not leave anyone in a parked car
- Take cool showers and baths
- Stay out of the sun if you can
As a tenant, you have the right to a safe and livable apartment. This is known as “implied warranty of habitability.” This right is automatically part of your rental agreement, and it cannot be waived. If your apartment’s air conditioning is broken and your landlord has not made any effort to fix it, this may violate the warranty of habitability, since not repairing it could lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or other heat-related illnesses.
There are several steps you can take if your landlord breaches the warranty of habitability:
- Provide written notice of the unsafe conditions to the landlord and keep a copy
- Sue your landlord for a rent reduction, or withhold rent – this may be risky, since your landlord may sue you for failure to pay rent; however, you can counter sue for breach of the warranty of habitability
- Attempt to make the repairs yourself – this is also risky; be sure to take pictures of the items needing repair and keep all receipts for repair costs. This option should only be attempted after giving the landlord written and a reasonable amount of time to do the repairs.
- Leave the apartment and cancel the lease
Premises liability is the area of the law that covers a landlord’s obligation to keep property reasonably safe. Heat illness and injuries can occur in NY due to a property owner’s negligence.
If you have suffered from heat exhaustion or heatstroke due to a poorly functioning or non-functioning air conditioner in your apartment, a reputable New York personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have a claim.