Philadelphia heat wave: How to stay safe

heat emergency philadelphia
Charles Mostoller

The National Weather Services has issued a heat advisory for Philadelphia this week, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-90s. With the potential of record-breaking heat headed to the city and suburbs, here are ways to stay safe.

Stay hydrated

As is the key in most aspects of life, the key to beating the heat is staying hydrated. Drinking water may seem like an obvious answer, but it’s also often overlooked. The liquid of life is the best way to stay hydrated, and it’s not just the answer to quench your thirst. To stay hydrated best, you should drink water throughout the day.

It’s not just about drinking water, though; it’s also about avoiding too much of drinks that are counterproductive. Drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine and those containing alcohol can all dehydrate you. It’s not that you can’t enjoy these beverages, but be sure to drink plenty of water to balance your body.

Get your fit right

Dressing for the occasion is always important. During a heat wave, be sure to keep it light, not tight, and wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes, and avoid heavy fabric. Also, don’t forget to wear a hat. Whether your style is a sunhat, a ballcap, or going the full ten gallons, keeping that cranium cool is a must when the heat is on.

Home is where the heart is, and the heat is not

It can be difficult to stay inside in a place like Philly, where there’s seemingly something to do on every street every day. Still, it’s important to pace oneself and utilize the tools in one’s own home to stay cool. Fans, air conditioning, a nice cool bath—these are all great ways to avoid the heat.

Embrace the darkness

When the sun is shining, it’s human nature to want to let that light in. Unfortunately, sometimes the light comes with the heat. Using drapes, shades, curtains, or awnings can go a long way toward making your home cooler. Outdoor awnings can also keep it cool, potentially reducing the heat in one’s home by up to 80 percent.

Inside, not out

A trip to the mall or to the movies can be a great way to kill time, enjoy the summer, and stay cool all at once. And if you’re looking for nothing more than to cool down, Philly has cooling centers scattered across the city in libraries, community centers and adult centers.

Heavy sweating, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and vomiting are all signs of heat-related illness. Whether you’re experiencing muscle cramps or heat exhaustion, it’s important to take the signs seriously and understand how to act when they present themselves.

Take action

Don’t push yourself. Ease back, stop whatever activity you’re doing, get out of the sun, and move to a cooler location.

Again, drinking water and remaining hydrated remains key.

Don’t try to tough it out. Seek medical attention if cramps or other symptoms persist for more than one hour. While it’s easy to say you know your body best, sometimes it’s better to trust the experts.

Heat stroke is a different issue altogether. With symptoms including red, hot, and dry skin, body temperature reaching 103°F, confusion, throbbing headaches, nausea, and unconsciousness, heat stroke is a serious risk for many, especially during a heat advisory.

If you are experiencing these symptoms or if you see someone with these symptoms, call 911 immediately. This is a medical emergency.