Philadelphia – As a result of the National Weather Service’s declaration of an “Excessive Heat Warning,” Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) will extend operation of  its HEATLINE until  8PM  on Saturday, July 23.   Hours of operation are as follows:

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, Noon to  Midnight
THURSDAY JULY 21, 8:30AM to Midnight
FRIDAY, JULY 22, 8:30AM to Midnight
SATURDAY, JULY 23, 8:30AM to 8PM

 The HEATLINE is a joint effort between PCA and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to prevent heat-related deaths and help citizens stay safe in extreme heat. Across the country, heat is known to cause more deaths each year than all other natural disasters combined.

At the HEATLINE call center, trained staff counsel callers of all ages with tips on dealing with the heat and detecting signs of heat stress.  City Health Department Nurses are on site at the HEATLINE call center to speak with callers about medical problems related to the heat. Mobile teams from the Health Department will be dispatched if a situation requires intervention, and 911 will be called for emergencies.

Neighbors, friends, and relatives are urged to look in on elderly persons, as they may be especially vulnerable to the heat. The elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions, those on medication, and persons who live alone and receive few visitors are encouraged to call PCA’s HEATLINE for advice on coping with the heat. In addition, callers may contact PCA’s HEATLINE on behalf of another individual who may be at risk for heat stress.

“When it gets this hot and temperatures outdoors are in the 90s, many homes can have indoor temperatures that reach 100 degrees of higher. This is extremely dangerous, especially for the homebound,” said Gallagher.

PCA’s HEATLINE is a non-emergency telephone service. IT IS NOT A FAN OR AIR CONDITIONER DISTRIBUTION SITE.  PCA’s HEATLINE staff can provide information about recommended air-conditioned locations and year-round senior services.


  Philadelphia Corporation for Aging  

Offers Warning Signs of Heat Stress, Tips to Stay Cool

When you’re feeling the heat, this information could be a lifesaver.

Sharon Congleton, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) Health Promotion Nurse Supervisor, says that senior citizens, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at a greater risk heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stress.

“It is important for older adults to understand the dangers and potential complications that can occur from being exposed to severe heat. Older adults also need to know what they can do to prevent heat stress from occurring,” she said.

Following are hot weather safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and PCA’s Sharon Congleton:

Know when to ask for help.  Symptoms of heat stress can include: loss of energy, loss of appetite, upset stomach, lightheadedness, prickly heat, heat cramps, heavy sweating, thirst, feeling faint, giddiness, confusion and/or nausea.  If you or someone you know experiences one or more of these symptoms, move to a cool location and rest.  Drink more fluids and remove any excess clothing.  Call 911, if symptoms include any of the following:  lack of sweat; combative behavior; hot, dry, flushed skin; body temperature of 105 degrees or above; throbbing headache; rapid heartbeat or breathing; convulsions; staggering; loss of consciousness; and/or confusion.

Check on elderly and homebound neighbors. Make sure they have enough to drink and check the conditions inside the home; fans should not be used inside a home with windows closed; this circulates hot air and creates a convection oven effect.

To avoid heat stress and dehydration:

Drink lots of water.  Even if you’re not thirsty, drink a glass of cold water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can cause your body to lose water; in hot weather, it is easy to become dehydrated, which is very dangerous to your health.

Stay cool.  Turn on the air conditioning – don’t try to save on energy bills during a heat wave. If you don’t have air conditioning, go somewhere that is air-conditioned, like a neighbor’s house, senior center, public library or shopping mall.  If you can’t get out of the house, stay on a lower floor, where it’s cooler and open the windows.  Use a fan only if the outside air is cooler than the inside air, and do not use a fan with the windows closed.  Also, keep curtains or blinds closed during daylight hours to block out the sun.

Take a cool shower or bath, which can be more effective at cooling you down than using a fan.

Dress cool by wearing loose, light-colored clothing, which allows air to circulate and helps the body throw off heat.  Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat outside.

Avoid the sun.  Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes loss of fluids.  If you must be outdoors, apply sunblock with SPF 15 or greater.  Stay in shaded areas when possible or use an umbrella.  Best of all, plan outdoor activities in the early morning or evenings, when the sun is not as strong and temperatures are cooler.

Pace yourself.  Rest often in cool or shaded areas.  Also, limit physical activity during periods of high heat and sun.

Eat lightly.  Avoid hot foods and heavy meals.  Use your stove and oven less to keep room temperatures lower.  If you must heat food, use a microwave.  Add cool foods to your diet, like watermelon, cantaloupe, Jell-O or other fruits.

Seniors in Philadelphia can always turn to the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040 for practical solutions to everyday problems.  But during a heat wave, this number expands to the PCA Heatline and assists callers of all ages on coping with the heat.  When the National Weather Service declares an “Excessive Heat Warning” for our area, the PCA Heatline is activated.  Trained staff can provide heat safety tips, information about recommended air-conditioned locations and year-round senior services.

This non-emergency telephone service includes a staff of nurses from the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health to address callers’ medical problems.  Mobile relief teams from the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health will respond to situations requiring intervention, and 911 will be called for emergencies.  Whether you’re concerned about the heat or need senior services, the PCA Helpline is the number to know – 215-765-9040.

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