Who’s at risk
Extreme heat can cause serious problems, especially for people in certain groups. These people are at higher risk of heat-related illness.
People at higher risk
People aged 65 years or older
Older adults are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Many people don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. If you’re older, be sure to drink water during extreme heat. Others should check in on older adults to make sure they’re staying cool and hydrated.
Older adults who have questions about the heat can call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Helpline at (215) 765-9040.
Infants and young children
Young children (under age 4) are sensitive to the effects of excessive heat. If you care for young children, they’re relying on you to stay cool and hydrated.
People with certain chronic medical conditions
Many prescription medications can contribute to dehydration. They may also affect the body’s ability to regulate body temperature. These medications include antihistamines, beta blockers, and drugs used to treat mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. Ask your healthcare provider how extreme heat events may affect you.
People with certain chronic conditions are also at high risk. Common risks include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. People with these conditions are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes get dehydrated more quickly. High temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. If you have diabetes, you may need to test your blood sugar more often. This will help you adjust your insulin dose and what you eat and drink.
- Cardiovascular disease: People with heart disease may be more vulnerable to heatstroke. Some medicines used to treat high blood pressure, like diuretics (water pills), can make dehydration worse.
- Asthma and other respiratory diseases: High temperatures can affect air quality. People with asthma and other breathing problems may have worse symptoms during high temperatures.
You may need to stay indoors or visit a cooler location when it’s hot. Check air quality ratings so you can make a plan.
Neighborhoods at higher risk
Some Philadelphia neighborhoods are hotter than others. Identifying those neighborhoods helps the City keep people safe during very hot weather.
The Philadelphia Heat Vulnerability Index shows which areas in the city are hottest and coolest during the summer. The index was created by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Office of Sustainability.
Some of the hottest neighborhoods in Philadelphia are:
- Cobbs Creek.
- Point Breeze.
- Strawberry Mansion.
- Hunting Park.
Affected neighborhoods are hotter because they have:
- Lower tree canopies with younger, shorter trees.
- Fewer green spaces.
- More exposed asphalt and dark surfaces, including black roofs.
- Older, less weatherized homes, largely due to a history of redlining and lack of investment.