Philadelphia Department of Public Health declares Heat Health Emergency beginning Monday morning

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Monday, July 20, 2020
Philadelphia has several 'spraygrounds' located throughout the city.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In response to the upcoming forecast of extreme heat indices, the City of Philadelphia has issued a Heat Health Emergency beginning Monday, July 20, at 8:30 a.m.

This declaration activates the City's emergency heat programs, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's Heatline, cooling centers, home visits by special field teams, and enhanced daytime outreach for people experiencing homelessness.

ACCUWEATHER: Extreme Heat Warning

The PCA Heatline (215-765-9040) will be open between 8:30 a.m. and midnight on Monday, July 20.

Members of the public are encouraged to call the Heatline 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.

Philadelphia's Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, "While the City has opened a number of sites to help our most vulnerable stay cool during the Heat Health Emergency, the best thing that we can do to help our family members, neighbors, and loved ones is to use this time to check on them. This can be done socially distanced, by phone or-if they are tech-savvy enough-by video. This is also an opportunity to put your mask on, knock on their door, step back six feet, and say hi. Ask if they need anything; if you're worried about their safety or they need something you can't provide, call the Heatline at 215-765-9040. Remember, we are a city of neighborhoods and neighborhoods only work if we're truly neighbors."

Due to the closure of Free Library locations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, 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.

Philadelphia Alternate Cooling Site Locations:


Visitors will be required to abide by social distancing guidelines and wear a mask while inside. Library staff have implemented several measures, including increased cleaning and lowered occupancy limits, to lower the risk of COVID-19 infection.

These libraries will be open between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday, July 20.

-Haddington Library at 446 North 65th Street

-Lillian Marrero Library at 601 West. Lehigh Avenue

-Logan Library 1333 Wagner Avenue


Visitors will be required to abide by social distancing guidelines and wear a mask while inside. City staff will be on-site to ensure that visitors abide by the rules.

These sites will be open between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday, July 20.

-West Philadelphia High School at 49th and Chestnut Streets

-Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts at 1901 North Front Street

SEPTA Cooling Buses

The City is working with SEPTA to make air-conditioned buses available for folks to drop in to cool off. The normal SEPTA social distancing and masking rules will be in force on these buses.

The buses are expected to be open between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday, July 20.

They will be at the following locations:

-Germantown and Allegheny Avenues

-Wyoming and Rising Sun Avenues

-Frankford and Allegheny Avenues

-52nd Street and Larchwood Avenue

Parks and Recreation Spraygrounds

Residents are also encouraged to visit any of the Parks and Recreation Department's 92 spraygrounds. Residents are encouraged to stay socially distanced when visiting their local site and to wear a mask when not in the water.

People who do not have air conditioning are advised to seek relief from the heat by visiting friends or relatives who have air conditioning. Please wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others and limit the length of your visit to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

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. Some of these groups, including older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, are also more likely to have severe complications from COVID-19 infection. The City strongly encourages all Philadelphians to check in with friends, neighbors, relatives, and other loved ones to make sure that they can be safe while maintaining a safe distance or by phone.

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.

The City advises those in distress to 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.