Philadelphia offers ways to beat the heat this summer

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Welcome to the dog days of summer. 

City residents are certainly feeling the heat as temperatures rose to the mid-90s over the holiday weekend and are expected to stay hot and humid throughout this week. Of course, that’s not unusual for July, but with the current state of affairs, it is definitely more challenging. 

As Philadelphians—and the country—battle spikes in positive coronavirus cases, health regulations and mandatory social distancing has made staying cool this summer more difficult than usual. 

“Some of this guidance is what we offer each year, but obviously the restrictions created by the threat of COVID-19 make this summer unlike any other,” said Managing Director Brian Abernathy in a statement. “Philadelphia traditionally has an extensive heat response system that has been nationally recognized. Our goal this summer is to maintain as many elements of that as possible despite the COVID restrictions.”

In an effort to provide relief from the heat while still avoiding the risks of gathering in large crowds, Philadelphia officials have announced initiatives to help residents stay cool. 

On Monday, July 6, the city will turn on spraygrounds at more than 90 Parks and Recreation locations. The spraygrounds will be operational daily and are open to the public. Hours are weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 5 p.m. A complete list of sprayground locations is available online

The city will also provide Cooling Kits to residents at Playstreets locations throughout the city. Kits include umbrellas, tents, cooling rags and misting fans. The Playstreets program is available in every neighborhood and helps local kids by providing nutritious meals, educational programs and a safe space to play in the summer. For additional information, visit phila.gov/programs/playstreets

Also, Pennsylvania residents who cannot afford air conditioning and need assistance may be eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is accepting applications through Aug. 31 or until funds are depleted. 

“We are currently in the process of determining how we can safely open facilities such as libraries and PCA senior centers during those heat events,” Abernathy said. “We are working with our partners, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, on balancing the social distancing needs imposed by the pandemic against the health risks of prolonged exposure to heat. 

“Because the pandemic is an evolving situation, we will be providing specific details when we are closer to a potential Heat Health Emergency,” Abernathy added. “We will, however, make sure those who need somewhere to go, have somewhere to go.”

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