Philadelphia declares heat health emergency as dangerous temps hit region

Maggie Kent Image
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Philly declares heat health emergency as dangerous temps hit region
Acting Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole has issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia as dangerous temperatures hit the region.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Acting Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole has issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia as dangerous temperatures hit the region.

This designation begins Tuesday, June 29 at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m.

"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 Bettigole.

At the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center in North Philadelphia, seniors are finding a place to socialize and most importantly stay out of the oppressive heat.

"It's a nice place to be, and a cool place. They're even staying open longer today, you know just to be able to provide a little more air for the seniors," said Lynn Thompson of North Philadelphia.

"Instead of being in the house and being depressed, it's nice and cool, and you get to meet a whole lot of people," said Sandy Reaves of North Philadelphia.

On hot days, hydration is key and it's best to start early.

"Some people do it the day of, but you really need to do it 12 to 24 hours before," said Sharlene Williams of Lansdowne.

"You don't want to wait until you're thirsty to drink," said Dr. Alvin Wang, Montgomery County Regional EMS Medical Director.

Kids are flocking to splash parks, but it is not just our human friends we have to look out for in this weather.

Asphalt temperatures rise to extreme temperatures and can quickly burn a pet's paws. As for time spent outside, it should be very minimal on days like today especially for dogs with short snouts.

"Big thing is to make sure you're offering them water, cool them down with cold washcloths and back into the air conditioning as soon as possible," says Assoc. Veterinarian Daria Rebecchi, with the Philadelphia Animal Hospital.

If you are relying solely on fans, beware if indoor temperatures reach 95 degrees. Using a fan could circulate more hot air and do more harm.

"The take-home message is to get into air conditioning if at all possible. If you can't do that, consider leaving a door or a window open while you're running your fan," said Wang.

Along Kelly Drive Monday night, it was a struggle.

"We're melting, we're struggling," said one person.

Others moved at a glacial pace to keep cool.

"Sunglasses, light clothing and walking slowly, no exercise just taking it easy," said Juan Bernal of Boston.

The early warning signs of heat stress are decreased energy, slight loss of appetite, faintness, lightheadedness, and nausea.

Officials say people who are 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

Cooling Centers

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.

City-run Vaccine Clinics

City-run vaccine clinics may need to close early due to the heat health emergency. Call 311 or visit for updates or to reschedule your appointment.

Help the homeless

If you see someone on the street who needs help you can call (215) 232-1984. Call 911 if there is a medical emergency.

Keep an eye on pets

During excessive heat, all dogs must have one or more separate areas of shade large enough to accommodate the entire body of the dog at one time and protect it from the direct rays of the sun. Owners can face a $500 fine (and can put their pets in grave danger) if they don't follow ACCT Philly's requirements. To report a dog left outdoors in very hot weather, call (267) 385-3800.