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June 17, 2024

As Philly prepares for its first heat wave of the year, here's where to stay cool

Residents can beat the heat at public pools and spraygrounds or find free air conditioning at libraries and senior centers.

Weather Heat Wave
Philly pool cooling centers Ellen C Miller/Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Philly's public pools began opening Monday, just in time for the year's first heat wave.

The Philly region is bracing for its first heat wave of the year, with record-high temperatures expected this week.

The National Weather Service has a heat advisory in place from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, and an excessive heat watch from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening. Temperatures are expected in the 90s all week, and it could hit 100 on Saturday for the first time in a decade. 

MORE: Philadelphia set to open 25 public pools next week, just in time for the first heat wave of the season

To stave off the heat, the Department of Public Health recommends staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks, and to not work or play out in the sun if possible. It also has a number of tips to know the signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. 

So far, the city hasn't issued an official heat emergency, though one is expected soon. That declaration is given this time of year when there are consecutive days with heat indexes from 98 to 105 degrees. 

There are plenty of free, public resources to stay cool. Here's where to go. 


Libraries haven't adjusted their schedules yet, but they extend their hours during heat emergencies. All Free Library branches are scheduled to close Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday in observance of Juneteenth, but they will be operating at normal hours for the rest of the week. 

Recreation Centers

Across the city, 156 rec centers are open daily with youth programming, summer camps, pools, playgrounds and other resources for residents. Find the list of rec center cooling stations in the event of a heat emergency here and the full rec center list here, which includes hours and programming. 

Senior Centers

Philadelphia's 28 senior centers are open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, and many are also used as cooling stations in the summer. The centers are open to adults 60 and older, and offer classes, meals and activities. Some are closed Wednesday for Juneteenth.

Spraygrounds, splash pads and sprinklers

The city's 92 spraygrounds, splash pads and sprinklers will be available from 1-7 p.m. on weekdays and noon-5 p.m. on the weekend. For those hoping to bring their kids, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation suggests bringing water shoes or sandals, towels and dry clothes. Not all spraygrounds have areas with shade, so it's also recommended to bring sunscreen and a T-shirt.  


Two schools, West Philadelphia High School and Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, are included in the city's official cooling center list should there be a heat emergency declaration. 


During an official heat emergency, two bus routes with air conditioning are available to the public. Residents can hop on Route 2 at Frankford Avenue and Oxford Street and Route 4 starting at Market and Broad streets from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 


Philly just started opening its public pools this week, beginning with Chew Pool, Hunting Park Recreation Center and Scanlon Playground on Monday. As the heat presses on, 25 pools will be available by Sunday, June 23, and another 35 are scheduled to open in the coming weeks.