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 Wednesday, August 11 at 12:00 p.m. and is scheduled to end on Friday, August 13 at 8:00 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 open at noon Wednesday, August 11 and run until midnight. It will be open between 8:30 a.m. and midnight on Thursday, August 12, and will be open between 8:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 13. 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.
 
“With high heat indices forecast this week, the Health Department has declared a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia beginning at noon on Wednesday, August 11,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “This could be the hottest week of the summer, so it’s especially important for folks to try to get their loved ones – especially our elderly neighbors and family members – into air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. This could mean using the air in your home, your car, a business, or one of the City’s cooling centers, being careful to follow COVID-19 precautions. 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
 
These libraries will operate with extended hours on Wednesday, August 11 through Friday, August 13. Masks are required at the library cooling centers.

  • Open until 7pm:
    • Frankford Library at 4634 Frankford Avenue
    • Haddington Library at 445 North 65th Street
    • Lillian Marrero Library at 601 West Lehigh Avenue
    • Paschalville Library at 6942 Woodland Ave
    • 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
    • Joseph E. Coleman Regional Library at 68 West Chelten Avenue
    • Lucien E. Blackwell Regional Library at 125 South 52nd Street
    • West Oak Lane Library at 2000 East Washington Lane
    • Whitman Library at 200 Snyder Avenue

PFD Cooling Buses
 
The City is working with the Philadelphia Fire Department 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 Thursday, August 12 and Friday, August 13. Consistent with City guidance on masking on public transit, masks are required on the PFD cooling buses.

  • Germantown and West Hunting Park Avenues
  • West Wyoming and Rising Sun Avenues
  • South Broad Street and Snyder Avenue

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 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.

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