PHILADELPHIA — In response to forecast maximum heat indexes over 110, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD, MPH has issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia. This designation begins Wednesday, July 17, at noon and is scheduled to end Monday, July 22, at 11 p.m.
A declaration of a Heat Health Emergency by the Health Commissioner activates the City’s emergency heat programs, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Heatline, extended hours at select Free Library locations that have been designated as Cooling Centers, home visits by special field teams, enhanced daytime outreach for the homeless, and a reminder from the City to the public to look in on older friends, relatives, and neighbors.
The Heatline (215-765-9040) will be open Wednesday, July 17, from noon through midnight; Thursday, July 18, from 8:30 a.m. through midnight; Friday, July 19, from 8:30 a.m. through midnight; Saturday, July 20, from 8:30 a.m. through midnight, and Sunday, July 21, from 8:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., when the emergency declaration ends. The public is encouraged to call if they have questions about precautions they can take against the heat and detecting signs of heat stress. City Health Department nurses will be on-site to speak with callers about medical problems related to the heat.
Health Commissioner Farley said, “we strongly urge the public to visit older friends, relatives and neighbors to ensure that air conditioners or fans are working and homes are adequately ventilated. In a heat wave, the majority of the victims are older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions.”
Groups at risk in the extreme heat include people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, small children, those who work in a high heat environment, and persons engaged in strenuous physical activity.
People who do not have air conditioning are advised to seek relief from the heat by visiting friends or relatives that have air conditioning. The City is also extending hours at air-conditioned libraries throughout the city. Branches with extended hours are listed below. Residents can find all of the identified Cooling Centers, as well as pools, spraygrounds, recreation centers, libraries, and older adult centers on this map.
The Department of Public Health recommends that to avoid heat-related illness, Philadelphians of all ages should adhere to the following simple rules:
- Use air conditioners. If you do not have access to air conditioning, find some.
- If using a fan, be sure to open windows to release trapped hot air.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to prevent dehydration.
- Never leave older people, children, or pets alone in cars.
- Those taking regular medication should consult with their physician. Some medications cause an adverse reaction in hot weather.
- Wear lightweight clothing.
- Avoid, as much as possible, working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas.
- Maintain a normal diet.
- Shower or bathe in water that is near skin temperature.
The early warning signs of heat stress are decreased energy, slight loss of appetite, faintness, lightheadedness, and nausea. People experiencing these symptoms should go to a cool environment, drink fluids, remove excess clothing, and rest.
Serious signs of heat stress include unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat, throbbing headache, dry skin, chest pain, mental confusion, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, staggering, and difficulty breathing. People experiencing these symptoms should get immediate medical attention. While waiting for help move the person to a cool area, remove excess clothing, spray with water, and fan the person. In an emergency, dial 911.
Stay connected to important heat and weather information from the City. Text READYPHILA to 888-777 for free text alerts or customize you free text or email alerts by visiting the Office of Emergency Management’s website.