Philly is under a Heat Health Emergency due to ‘oppressive’ temps

Thirty-two libraries and rec centers will have extended hours through Saturday so people can cool off. Utility shutoffs will be paused as well.

Evening commuters travel on Broad Street past a hazy City Hall, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Philadelphia.

Evening commuters travel on Broad Street past a hazy City Hall, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

What you need to know

The National Weather Service is forecasting “oppressive heat” for the Philadelphia area.

City officials issued a Heat Health Emergency from 9 a.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. Saturday, which will mean cooling centers open and utility shutoffs pause.

An Excessive Heat Watch is in effect through 10 p.m. Friday, when heat index values up to 103 degrees are expected.

The potential for heat-related illnesses will “significantly increase,” the NWS says, due to extreme heat and humidity.

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Philadelphia Water Department shutoffs are paused during Heat Health Emergencies.

While PECO voluntarily halts new shutoffs during Heat Health Emergencies, the utility does not automatically restore service to customers whose electricity is already shut off when the emergency begins.

Philly’s Office of Homeless Services has also declared a Code Red through 8 p.m. Saturday, July 29. This means the city implements 24-hour outreach to transport unhoused people to safe indoor spaces and opens all available beds within the city’s emergency housing network.

Cooling centers open for expanded hours

Some libraries and rec centers will open for extended hours Thursday through Saturday, to serve as cooling centers.

Free Library cooling center locations listed below will be open from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m., Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29.

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Recreation centers listed below will be open 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29.

Visiting a city pool or sprayground can also help you stay cool. A full list of open pools and spraygrounds can be found online.

If you must go outside amid scorching temps, here’s what to watch out for and how to stay safe.

City officials say cooling center locations and hours may change if the Heat Health Emergency is extended.

How to help

During extreme heat, check in on elderly neighbors and relatives. If you see someone experiencing symptoms of heatstroke, like rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, call 911.

People of all ages can call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s HeatLine during Heat Health Emergencies at 215-765-9040, for health and safety tips or to talk to nurses about medical problems tied to the heat.

If residents see a person who appears to be unhoused during a Code Red, they are urged to request a street outreach team by contacting the city’s Homeless Outreach hotline at 215-232-1984.

Poor air quality Friday

Pennsylvania officials also declared a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for Ozone for the Philly area on Friday. That includes Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties.

Ozone, a gas that’s harmful when breathed in, forms from a combination of heat and different pollutants.

The state Department of Environmental Protection cited sunny skies, temperatures near 100 degrees, and light southwest winds as likely contributors to 8-hour average concentrations of ozone in the Code Orange range.

Under a Code Orange, air pollution concentrations may be unhealthy for vulnerable groups such as children, people with asthma, people with heart or lung disease, and older adults.

Residents are encouraged to visit to check local conditions.

If you need a primer, here’s how to understand your air quality index.

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