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Philadelphia activates heat emergency, opens cooling centers, launches heat hotline

Doctor explains how heat wave can affect your health, and what to do to stay cool
Doctor explains how heat wave can affect your health, and what to do to stay cool 03:10

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is under a heat emergency until at least Sunday night, Interim Health Commissioner Frank Franklin announced Wednesday. The emergency, which began Thursday morning, could be extended if needed, officials said.

Thursday was the fourth day of an intense heat wave that started Monday and isn't expected to let up until the weekend.

The emergency designation by the health department activates emergency heat programs, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's Heatline, cooling centers, home visits by special field teams, enhanced daytime outreach for people experiencing homelessness, and the city's reminder to the public to safely check on older friends, relatives, and neighbors, according to a news release from the city.

The PCA Heatline (215-765-9040) is open between 8:30 a.m. and midnight during the emergency and could be extended. Call the Heatline to get health safety tips and to talk to a nurse about medical problems related to the heat.

Philadelphia will also open 153 cooling centers and extend hours at Free Library locations, pools, spraygrounds, older adult centers and senior sites. 

This map shows the cooling centers, which are also available by calling 311. A full listing of the sites can be downloaded from the city website, too.

More than 90 spraygrounds are also now open in Philadelphia. City pools have started to open for the season as well, with more expected to open throughout the week and weekend.

The city has also partnered with four community organizations — Broad Street Ministry, One Day at a Time, Prevention Point Philadelphia and Sister Clara Muhammad — to open additional cooling centers.

All of the cooling centers, including those operated by partners, are ADA-compliant, according to the city.

Look out for neighbors

The Office of Homeless Services has declared a code red and will take protective measures to protect Philadelphians who are experiencing homelessness, according to the release. If you see someone who needs help, call the outreach team at (215) 232-1984 or call 911 for a medical emergency. 

Philadelphia officials are also urging residents to check in on friends, neighbors and loved ones to make sure they are safe in the heat. Those who are at higher risk in the heat include people who do not have or use air conditioning, older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant people, small children, people who work in hot environments, people who take certain medications, people who use alcohol or drugs and those who are engaged in strenuous physical activity. 

RELATED: Important reminders to help keep your cool in the sizzling weather

Look for early warning signs

The early warning signs of heat stress are decreased energy, slight loss of appetite, faintness, lightheadedness and nausea, according to the health department. People experiencing these symptoms should go to a cool environment, drink fluids, remove excess clothing and rest. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911. City hospitals are ready and available to accept patients who need help, the news release said.

More serious symptoms include unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat, throbbing headache, dry skin, chest pain, confusion, irritability, vomiting, muscle cramps, staggering and difficulty breathing, according to the city. People experiencing these symptoms should get immediate medical attention. 

READ MORE: What happens to the body in extreme heat? Experts explain the heat wave's dangerous impact.

City officials have published a Heat Health Emergency blog post and Extreme Heat Guide. You can also sign up for updates from the city through ReadyPhiladelphia, a text notification system. Text READYPHILA to 888777 for free alerts to your device or customize free texts or emails by visiting the Office of Emergency Management's ReadyPhiladelphia page. Alerts are now available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language. More information can be found on OEM's website.

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