PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When temperatures hit the 90s or higher, it is important to keep yourself safe and to check on family, friends, neighbors and pets. Everyone is at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke during extended periods of high temperatures and high humidity.
During very hot weather, Philadelphia will announce a heat health emergency on phila.gov, and through the city’s free mass text alert system. (Sign up for those texts on the city's website.) Mobile heat health teams may be dispatched. Residential utility shut-offs are stopped. And certain services are activated to help residents stay safe.
The City of Philadelphia declared a Heat Health Emergency from Monday at noon through at least Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Here is a quick guide to heat emergency resources in the city.
What you can do
Health officials recommend regularly checking in on young children, older people, and those who have diabetes, heart and respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. These vulnerable populations are advised to limit their time and activity outdoors on hot days.
Health officials strongly encourage increasing the amount of water you drink, wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes, and taking cool showers and baths.
For people who do not have access to air conditioning at home, electric fans can provide some relief, but keep a couple of windows open. Running fans with the windows closed can create convection effects that actually increase the heat.
And under no circumstances should children or pets be left unattended in vehicles. Car interiors can reach unsafe temperatures in as little as two minutes.
The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging will open this special helpline number for callers seeking heat-related health and safety tips and help with non-emergency health issues.
Homeless outreach: 215-232-1984
City officials urge anyone who sees a homeless person, or someone in need of shelter, to call this homeless outreach number.
If you think someone is having a medical emergency, call 911.
In a heat health emergency, the city coordinates with various air-conditioned locations to give access to city residents so they can escape the heat. Cooling centers can include, libraries, schools, buses, and other locations.
Other tips include using public air-conditioned spaces, like the museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Public pools and spraygrounds
There is a public pool or sprayground in every ZIP code in the city. There are 63 public swimming pools operating this summer. (Call individual pools for hours.) About 70% of the open pools are in low-income communities, where the average family income is $45,000 a year or less.
More than 90 spraygrounds are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekday until Labor Day, except in the case of inclement weather.
Philadelphia’s fountains like the ones at LOVE Park, Dilworth Park and Logan Square in Center City can also provide relief.
The city asks people not to open fire hydrants, however, as doing so can diminish water levels for homes and businesses and make it harder for firefighters to do their work in extreme heat.
And though you may be sorely tempted by adventure, swimming in Philadelphia’s rivers, streams and other natural waterways is dangerous and not allowed.
Keeping pets safe
These tips can help families keep their pets out of the emergency veterinarian's office.
1. Bring pets indoors out of the sun and into air-conditioned spaces. Those without air conditioning should keep fans running to circulate air.
2. Make sure pets have water at all times. Go a step further and put some ice cubes in the water bowl.
3. When running errands, leave pets at home indoors, or in a cool, shaded, safe place outdoors.
According to the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team, the city requires all dog owners to have a shaded space large enough to protect the animal from the sun at all times, or their dogs could be put in grave danger.
Dog owners who don’t follow this law can be fined up to $500. Call 267-385-3800 if you see dogs left outside in hot weather.