Philly region under Excessive Heat Warning amid ‘dangerously hot conditions,’ poor air quality

Heat index values could reach up to 107 degrees this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Philadelphia City Hall in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.

Philadelphia City Hall in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

What you need to know

Abdur-Rahim Talibdin stood under an umbrella selling clothing and accessories outside Penn’s medical complex in West Philly Friday.

Warm weather is generally good for foot traffic, he said. But when it gets too hot, business can slow down. He planned to close up shop early that afternoon.

“I don’t want to overheat, get exhausted, faint,” he said. “I’m older, so I do less hours than I used to do.”

Talibdin’s caution comes amid Philadelphia’s first  Heat Health Emergency of the season.

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The HHE is scheduled to last through midnight on Sunday, though the emergency may be extended if the forecast worsens, the city Department of Public Health announced via press release.

The declaration from interim Health Commissioner Dr. Frank Franklin means that the city opens cooling centers and the Philadelphia Water Department pauses utility shutoffs.

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.

“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 Franklin. “The best way to protect our loved ones is to make sure they can get into air conditioning during the hottest part of the day.”

Cooling centers open, some with expanded hours

In response to the Heat Health Emergency, Philly is opening 153 cooling centers and sites, including extended hours at Free Library locations, Parks & Recreation Centers, pools, spraygrounds, Older Adult Centers and PHA Senior Sites.

Residents can find a cooling center near them below or by calling 311.

Cooling programs in Montgomery County

In Montco, extreme heat cooling programs are available at more than 70 sites around the county. Residents can find a Montco cooling program near them online via the PA 211 website.

Code Red in effect in Philly, Montgomery County

The city’s Office of Homeless Services has also declared a Code Red until Monday morning.

Under a Code Red, 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.

Montgomery County commissioners on Friday similarly declared a “Code Red Hot Weather Emergency” in consultation with the county Office of Public Health. The Code Red goes into effect at 11 a.m. Saturday and lasts through 6 p.m. Sunday.

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Montco’s “Weather Health Warning” is issued ahead of an oppressively hot air mass with a heat index of at least 100 degrees. Residents in need of emergency shelter during a Code Red may call Community Connections at 610-278-3522.

What does the forecast say?

Scorching temperatures have led to an Excessive Heat Warning through 8 p.m. Sunday for the Philadelphia region, with “dangerously hot conditions” and heat index values up to 107 degrees possible.

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

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 free 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 Philadelphia residents see a person who appears 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.

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