PHILADELPHIA — In response to forecast maximum heat index values, Interim Health Commissioner Frank Franklin, PhD, JD, MPH, FCPP has declared a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia. This designation begins at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2024 and is scheduled to end at midnight on Saturday, June 22, 2024, though may be extended if the forecast worsens.

A declaration of a Heat Health Emergency activates the City’s emergency heat programs, which include the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Heatline, cooling centers, home visits by special field teams, enhanced daytime outreach for people experiencing homelessness, and the City’s reminder to the public to safely check on older friends, relatives, and neighbors from a distance.

The PCA Heatline (215-765-9040) will be open between 8:30 a.m. and midnight on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The hours and days of operation may be extended if the Heat Health Emergency is extended. The public is encouraged to call if they have questions about precautions they can take and detecting signs of heat stress. City Health Department nurses will be available to speak with callers about medical problems related to the heat.

“The Health Department declares a Heat Health Emergency when the temperature gets high enough that vulnerable people – especially our elderly neighbors and family members – are at an increased risk of getting sick or dying from the heat,” said Interim Health Commissioner Dr. Frank Franklin. “The best way to protect our loved ones is to make sure they can get into air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. As always, we encourage Philadelphian to check on elderly friends and neighbors to make sure they’re safe and don’t need assistance. If you’re worried about someone’s health during the emergency, you can call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Heatline at 215-765-9040.”

“My Administration is focused on ensuring that Philadelphians have access to every resource they need to be safe and healthy,” said Mayor Cherelle L. Parker. “The City is opening more cooling centers and sites for residents than we ever have before. That means it will be easier than ever to find a place in your neighborhood that can help keep you and your loved ones safe from the heat. And don’t forget to check on your neighbors too.”

People who do not have air conditioning are advised to seek relief from the heat by visiting friends or relatives who have air conditioning. The City will be opening a variety of alternate cooling sites that will be available for use by all Philadelphia residents looking to escape the heat.

Cooling Centers and Sites

The City is opening 153 Cooling Centers and Sites throughout the city in response to the Heat Health Emergency, including extended hours at Free Library locations, Parks and Recreation Centers, pools, spraygrounds, and Older Adult Centers, and PHA Senior Sites.

Residents can find all of the identified Cooling Centers and Sites on this map or by calling 311. A full listing of the sites can be downloaded from the City’s website.

Cooling Center locations and hours may change if the Heat Health Emergency is extended.

Utility Shutoffs
Philadelphia Water Department shutoffs are suspended during a Heat Health Emergency. Shutoffs for non-payment will resume after the Heat Health Emergency ends.

Outreach and shelter for people living on the street
The Office of Homeless Services also declared a Code Red and will take proactive measures to protect Philadelphians who are experiencing homelessness. Call the outreach team at (215) 232-1984 if you see someone on the street who needs shelter or other homeless services. Call 911 if there is a medical emergency.

Who is at risk
Groups that are at higher risk of heat stress include:

  • People who do not have or use air conditioning,
  • Older adults,
  • People with chronic medical conditions,
  • Pregnant women,
  • Small children,
  • Those who work in high heat environments,
  • Those who take certain medications that disrupt the regulation of body temperature,
  • Those who use alcohol or drugs, and
  • Persons engaged in strenuous physical activity.

The City strongly encourages all Philadelphians to check in with friends, neighbors, relatives, and other loved ones to make sure that they are safe from the heat.

The Department of Public Health recommends that to avoid heat-related illness, Philadelphians of all ages should:

  • Use air conditioners. If necessary, go to an air-conditioned location for several hours during the hottest parts of the day. If you visit a public place with air conditioning, remember to wear a mask while inside.
  • If using a fan, be sure to open windows to release trapped hot air.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water, to prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • 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, light-colored clothing.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas, especially during the sun’s peak hours of 11 a.m. through 4 p.m.
  • Maintain a normal diet.
  • Shower or bathe in water that is near skin temperature.
  • Cover all exposed skin with an SPF sunscreen (15 or above). Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and head. Apply sunscreen under your mask to protect your face.

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. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911. City hospitals are ready and available to accept patients who need help.

Call 911 immediately if you have or you see others with serious signs of heat stress, including 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.

More information about heat health emergencies and what residents can do to stay safe can be found on the City’s Heat Health Emergency blog post, and on the City’s Extreme Heat Guide.

Important information and updates from the City will be sent through ReadyPhiladelphia, the city’s free mass notification system. Text READYPHILA to 888777 for free alerts to your device or customize free texts or emails by visiting the Office of Emergency Managment’s ReadyPhiladelphia page. Alerts are now available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language. More information can be found on OEM’s website.

Media Note

The City will be making one cooling site per day available to press for footage and interviews for the duration of the Heat Health Emergency. On Thursday, June 20, 2024, members of the news media are encouraged to go to the following site:

Easy Passyunk Recreation Center
1025 Mifflin Street
Philadelphia, PA  19148
Availability: 1:30 p.m. through 2:30 p.m.