The Philadelphia Health Department has already declared the first heat health emergency. This weather peak is defined by three or more days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32°C. In the face of the event and others to come, people are advised to prepare a heat break. These are a series of strategies designed to withstand the sweltering season.
In the city, the Hunting Park neighborhood is one of the most vulnerable to summer. It is a predominantly African and Latino community. Their landscape has fewer trees and more asphalt. Ximena Conde from WYHH said they are turning to alternatives. Neighbors are crowdfunding air conditioners.
High temperatures may be joined by harmful variables. The National Weather Service NWS issued an orange air quality alert for the region. It means that air pollution could pose a risk to sensitive groups. These include children, the elderly and people with asthma, heart or lung disease. During these events people should avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
Create a heat break
The declaration of a heat health emergency activates the city’s emergency programs. Residents should consider the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging heat hotline.
Cooling centers are available as part of the Philadelphia strategies. Also through the PCA heat line (215-765-9040) home visits by special field teams are available. The city is also prepared to provide expanded daytime outreach for people experiencing homelessness. It also encourages the public to safely check on elderly friends, family members and neighbors from a distance.
To set up heat breaks there are those who help themselves. With its GoFundMe campaign, the Hunting Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee wants to distribute as many cooling devices as possible in the shortest possible time.
Escaping the problem
There are alternatives to turn to in case you need a refuge from the high temperatures. Public swimming pools are an excellent alternative. With the necessary care to protect the skin, swimming pools mitigate the heat. Children and adults can access public cooling centers designated by the city. There are at least seven libraries designated as heat-quenching spaces. SEPTUM has also made air-conditioned buses available. But without a doubt the favorite places for children, grandparents and parents on weekends are the sprinkler parks.
The city often provides maps to indicate where they are located. They are an effective, low-maintenance, and economical way to mitigate the heat.
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Families can also go for a dip in the fountains, as long as they are in a permitted one. The list is as long as it is complex. There are water parks, nudist beaches, waterfront sites, river kayaking and tubing.
The following are recommendations from the Department of Public Health to reduce the heat:
A vital issue is to use air conditioning. If you do not have one at home, go to an air-conditioned place for several hours during the hottest part of the day. If you go to an air-conditioned public place, remember to wear a mask.
- When using a fan, be sure to open windows to release trapped hot air.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Never leave elderly people, children or pets alone in the car.
People who regularly take medications should consult their physician. Some medications cause an adverse reaction in hot weather.
Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing. When choosing a mask, make sure the material is also light and breathable, such as cotton.
Avoid, as much as possible, working or playing in the sun or other hot areas. Especially during the hours of highest sun intensity, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- Keep a normal diet.
- Shower or bathe with water that close to skin temperature.
- Cover all exposed skin with a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and head.
- Apply sunscreen under the mask to protect your face.
Translated by: José Espinoza