Hot, hot, hot! Philly declares a Code Red

Justin Udo
July 16, 2019 - 5:11 pm
Thermometer Sun 40 Degres. Hot summer day. High Summer temperatures

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UPDATED: 1:20 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s getting hot out there and in response, the City of Philadelphia has issued a Code Red.

What is a Code Red? Well, the city issues one when temperatures reach 90 degrees or more for at least three consecutive days.

During this time, the city has cooling centers for the homeless and makes it mandatory for dogs to be placed in the shade otherwise pet owners can face a hefty fine.

Orlando Rendon with parks and recreation also says this means all public pools will operate on a free swim schedule until further notice.

“When that comes into affect all our pools go into open swim, so any programs that are structured into any particular hour are cancelled and everybody has access to our swimming pools, anytime from 11(a.m.) – 7(p.m.)," Rendon said, 

Rendon says their Code Red programming goes beyond just city pools.

“Camp gets priority in terms of the kids who are in the camp, but if we can accommodate anyone else in terms of any rooms that are air conditioned, we will do so. The six older adult centers that we operate will actually extend the hours, instead of closing at four, they'll extend until 7 p.m.,” she explains.

These changes, Rendon says, will stay in place for the rest of the week.

“The current Code Red we are in will last until Saturday,” she said. “Then we'll get a warning or a directive that says it'll be cancelled by Saturday, hopefully.”

You can find a full list of city pools and their locations by clicking here.

In addition, city officials say if you see a homeless person in need of help you can call their outreach team at (215) 232-1984 or for more information you can go to the city's website by clicking here. If it is a medical emergency, officials say, call 911 immediately.

All four-legged friends, officials say, must have shade to protect them from the sun. If you do not provide your dog shade, you could face a fine of $500 or more. If you see a dog left outdoors in very hot weather, call the Animal Care & Control Team (ACCTPhilly) at (267) 385-3800.

Health Commissioner issues first Heat Health Emergency of 2019

The Philadelphia Department of Pubic Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, MD,MPH says the heat this week could be deadly. In reponse to the forecast of heat indexes over 110 degrees, Farley has issued a Heat Health Emergency in Philadelphia from Wednesday until Sunday, July 21.

"More people die in heat waves than all other natural disasters," said Farley. "The people who are at greatest risk are the elderly, people living without air conditioning, people who are low income, often, and isolated," he continued. 

Farley says everyone can help avoid those heat deaths.

"We'd recommend that if your friends, relatives or even neighbors that you know of are elderly, living alone, check in on them; See how they're doing and see if you can get them into an air conditioned setting."

The city has cooling centers operating until Sunday. Libraries will have extended hours for access to air conditioning.

Jim Garrow, Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesperson, says the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging has also activated the heatline. 

Anyone with questions about staying careful in the heat can call the PCA heatline at 215-765-9040, where health department nurses will be available to help and offer recommendations on how to stay safe.

Philadelphians react to the heat

On Temple University's campus, Laura Biesiadecki only had to walk a few blocks in the midday heat. But that was enough to make her feel “Absolutely miserable. I hate it.”

“Oh yeah. It feels like a swamp. Going through an absolute swamp,” she added. 

Workers who have to be out in the heat have their ways to cope. One parking authority officer retreated to his air-conditioned car when he could.

“I’m trying. As you see I’m still out here, but just not staying out for any long period of time,” he said. 

Brian Orseno was working construction on the Temple campus. 

“We’re stuck in direct sun. We just drink a lot of water and a lot of sunscreen and a lot of meditation while you're working. You think cool thoughts. It’s mind over matter,” Orseno said. 

Salim Zeka, who was behind the grill inside his Sexy Green food truck, also used the mental escape.

“Just thinking about mountains and snow and waterfalls. You try to keep cool, you control it with your mind,” Zeka said. 

KYW Newsradio's Pat Loeb and Mike DeNardo contributed to this article.