There’s no denying that it gets hot in Philadelphia during the summertime.

Urban areas, like Philadelphia, are hotter in the spring and summer when temperatures rise. This can be attributed to something dubbed the “urban heat island effect”.

Cities have less tree canopy cover and vegetation, more paved surfaces, row homes with dark rooftops, and taller building structures that reduce airflow.

Very hot weather can make people sick, even healthy adults. Older adults, those who are pregnant, infants and young children, people experiencing homelessness, and people with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk. Here are a few tips to help you stay cool this summer.

Drink more fluids.

Regardless of your activity level, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluids. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you when you go outside and keep it filled with cool water.

Never use a fan with windows closed.

The style of Philadelphia row homes plays a role in heat stress. Brick row homes with black roof-tops absorb heat. The temperature inside a home with closed windows can equal that outside the home in something called a “convection oven” effect.  Turning a fan on inside a home that has closed windows only circulates the hot air, causing the oven effect.        

Stay in an air-conditioned place, or visit a cooling center.

If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public air-conditioned space such as a public library, movie theater, food court, or museum. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

Visit a sprayground or pool.

Cool off at one of the city’s more than 70 free spraygrounds and pools. Make sure to wear sunscreen and stay in the shade whenever possible!

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Seek out fabrics that allow air to flow around your body.

Take a cool bath or shower.

Take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned place to cool off.

  • Remember: Do not use fire hydrants to cool off, they are for fighting fires. According to the Philadelphia Water Department, opening hydrants to cool off decreases water pressure and makes it difficult for firefighters to do their jobs, plus it can damage water mains. The water pressure alone from a hydrant can cause serious injury or even death, especially if there are little kids around. Find a public pool near you instead.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and put on sunscreen.

Seek out shade wherever possible to avoid direct sunlight. If you’re going to be outside for any amount of time, make sure you are protected from the sun’s rays.

Call the Homeless Outreach Hotline if you see someone on the street who needs shelter.

The Office of Homeless Services will dispatch their homeless outreach team to any individual on the street who needs to be transported to a local shelter or who needs other homeless services.

  • Pro Tip: save this number in your phone to request outreach anytime, 365 days a year. Homeless Outreach Hotline: 215-232-1984.

Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours as much as possible.

Remember, if the temperature has been over 90 degrees for a few days, even morning and evening hours can be overly hot and dangerous times.

NEVER leave children and pets unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

During warm or hot weather car interiors can reach lethal temperatures. It takes only two minutes for a car to reach unsafe temperatures.

Sign up for free ReadyPhiladelphia weather updates.

The Office of Emergency Management shares information about heat and severe weather through free email and text alerts via the City’s mass notification system, ReadyPhiladelphia.

Don’t forget about your pets!

Pets can suffer from heat-related illness too.

a dog standing close to the camera with grass in the background

Make sure your pet has a ventilated, cool place to lay and plenty of water.

If you have air conditioning, keep them inside with you.

Do not leave your pet outside for extended periods of time.

When outside, ensure shade and cool water.

Keep their paws safe.

Dog and cat paws have foot-pads which can burn on hot surfaces like concrete, metal, pavement, sidewalks and asphalt. Ouch! Remember to try to walk them in shaded areas and pay attention to any signs of discomfort.

Follow ACCT Philly’s extreme weather requirements during a Code Red.

A Code Red is when the National Weather Service extended weather forecast includes at least three consecutive days of 95 degrees or above temperatures with high humidity. 

  • Remember: Owners can face a $500 fine (and can put their pets in grave danger) if they don’t follow ACCT Philly’s requirements. Make sure to familiarize yourself with ACCT Philly’s extreme weather information.

Report animals left outdoors in severe weather.

If you see an animal who does not have adequate water, shade, and shelter during extreme weather call 267-385-3800 and dial 1 to speak with a dispatcher or file a report online with all the details you have available.