Philadelphia Department of Public Health Declares First Heat Health Emergency of 2022 

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PHILADELPHIA – In response to forecast maximum heat index values, Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, MD, MPH issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia. This designation begins at 12 p.m. on Thursday, July 21 and is scheduled to end at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 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 from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 21.

The hours 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 Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “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. We recommend that people wear masks if they are going to an air-conditioned place, like a cooling center. 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.”    

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    


Libraries 

These libraries will operate with extended hours on Thursday, July 21. Cooling Center locations and hours may change if the Heat Health Emergency is extended. 

Lucien E. Blackwell Regional Library 
125 South 52nd Street 
215-685-7431 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Joseph E. Coleman Regional Library 
68 West Chelten Avenue 
215-685-2150 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Blanche A. Nixon Cobbs Creek Library 
5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway 
215-685-1973 
Open until 8 p.m. 
 
Fox Chase Library 
501 Rhawn Street 
215-685-0547 
Open until 8 p.m. 
 
Frankford Library 
4634 Frankford Avenue 
215-685-1473 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Fumo Family Library 
2437 South Broad Street 
215-685-1758 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Haddington Library 
446 North 65th Street 
215-685-1970 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Lillian Marrero Library (meeting room only) 
601 West Lehigh Avenue 
215-685-9794 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Logan Library 
1333 Wagner Avenue 
215-685-9156 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Oak Lane Library 
6614 North 12th Street 
215-685-2848 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Paschalville Library 
6942 Woodland Avenue 
215-685-2662 
Open until 7 p.m. 
 
Widener Library 
2808 West Lehigh Avenue 
215-685-9799 
Open until 7 p.m. 

Pools and Spraygrounds 

Residents are also encouraged to visit any of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s spraygrounds and pools.

Residents can find all of the identified Cooling Centers, as well as spraygrounds, on this map or by calling 311.    

Utility Shutoffs 
Utility shutoffs are suspended during a Heat Health Emergency.  

The Philadelphia Water Department was scheduled to resume residential shutoffs for delinquency today, July 20, 2022. Due to the Heat Health Emergency, water shutoffs will continue to be suspended. When the declaration is lifted, PWD will resume shutoffs as previously scheduled. 

Any customer who received a shutoff notice should pay their bill now if possible, or call (215) 685-6300 to request an assistance application or payment agreement to avoid losing water. Applications are also available at water.phila.gov/cap. Please visit water.phila.gov for more information.   

Outreach and shelter for homeless individuals 

The Office of Homeless Services also declared a Code Red that began Tuesday July 19, 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 Extreme Heat Guide

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