PHILADELPHIA – In response to forecast maximum heat index values, Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, MD, MPH issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia. This designation begins Tuesday, June 29 at 8:00 a.m. and is scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m., 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 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 Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. 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 Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. «The best way to protect our loved ones is to make sure that they can get into air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. People who are not yet fully vaccinated should wear masks if they are going to an air conditioned place like a cooling center. As always, we encourage Philadelphians to check on elderly friends and neighbors to make sure that 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.”
People who do not have air conditioning are advised to seek relief from the heat by visiting friends or relatives who have air conditioning, or by visiting public air conditioned spaces, like malls and movies theaters. People who aren’t vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors in these public locations. 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.
The following libraries will operate with extended hours on Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. Masks are strongly recommended at the library cooling centers.
Open until 7pm:
- Frankford Library at 4634 Frankford Avenue
- Lillian Marrero Library at 601 West Lehigh Avenue
- Widener Library at 2808 West Lehigh Avenue
Open until 8pm:
- Blanche A. Nixon Cobbs Creek Library at 5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway
- Fox Chase Library at 501 Rhawn Street
- Lucien E. Blackwell Regional Library at 125 South 52nd Street
- Whitman Library at 200 Snyder Avenue
SEPTA Cooling Buses
The City is working with SEPTA to make air-conditioned buses available for folks to drop in to cool off. The buses will be open between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. Consistent with City guidance on masking on public transit, masks are required on the SEPTA cooling buses.
- Germantown and Allegheny Avenues
- Wyoming and Rising Sun Avenues
- 52nd Street and Larchwood Avenue
- Broad and Snyder Streets
- 22nd and Moore Streets
- N. 29th and York Streets
Parks and Recreation Spraygrounds
Residents are also encouraged to visit any of the Parks and Recreation Department’s 92 spraygrounds.
Residents can find all of the identified Cooling Centers, as well as pools and spraygrounds, on this map or by calling 311.
City-run Vaccine Clinics
City-run vaccine clinics may need to close early due to the heat health emergency. Call 311 or visit www.phila.gov/vaccine for updates or to reschedule your appointment.
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 misuse 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 and stay at least six feet away from anyone you don’t live with, if you are not yet fully vaccinated.
- 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. When choosing a mask, make sure the material is also lightweight and breathable, like cotton.
- 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 blog post.