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July 20, 2022

Philadelphia Water Department to pause service shutoffs during heat health emergency

Temperatures are expected to reach well into the 90s through at least Sunday, with indexes over 100 on Thursday

Government Utilities
Heat wave.png Akira Suwa/Philadelphia Inquirer/Sipa USA

A lifeguard cools off using a hose at the Murphy Recreation Center Pool in Philadelphia. With temperatures in the 90s and a heat index in the triple digits, the Philadelphia Water Department has decided to temporarily stop shutting off past due accounts.

The Philadelphia Water Department will temporarily suspend water shutoffs due to a Heat Health Emergency that was declared on Wednesday, which takes place Thursday from noon to 8:00 p.m. 

The department, which was set to begin cutting off delinquent accounts on Wednesday, will resume water shutoffs after the emergency expires. 

Temperatures are expected to reach well into the 90s through at least Sunday, with high dew points in the 70s making it feel even warmer due to humidity. The heat will peak on Thursday afternoon with an index ranging between 100 and 103 degrees.

The temperatures will be extreme enough to increase vulnerable people's risk of health issues, Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said in a statement.

"The best way to protect our loved ones is to make sure they can get into air conditioning during the hottest part of the day," Bettigole said.

During a Heat Health Emergency, the city offers cooling sites at the 12 Free Library branches. There is also a special hotline for the elderly, resources available to the homeless, and rules for taking care of pets. Outdoor pets are supposed to be in shaded areas with water available. Those looking to help homeless persons seek shelter can call 215-232-1984.

Philadelphia also has several pools and spray grounds where you can cool off.

Hydration is essential in extreme heat and finding a cool place to sit is also important. If your home or job is not adequately air-conditioned, find somewhere else to go with cool air. Covering your windows to insulate your home can also help push the heat outside.

Many people resort to cool showers when the heat becomes unbearable, but showering longer than usual in lukewarm or cool water reduces body sweating.

Although going outside should be limited during extreme heat, you should wear lightweight clothing if decide to do so.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says people should recognize signs that their bodies are experiencing heat-related breakdowns, such as cramps, exhaustion, or heat stroke. Signs of heat stress include nausea, lightheadedness, and difficulty breathing.

According to the National Weather Service, there were 190 weather-related fatalities across the U.S. in 2021.

You should call 911 immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing serious signs of heat-related symptoms.

If you are struggling to pay your water bill, there are different ways to apply for payment assistance.

The Tiered Assistance Program allows eligible residents who meet income requirements or have experienced hardships to receive help paying delinquent water bills. 

Residents can also apply for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program and receive grant funding worth up to $5,000 to pay bills.

Another program is the Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund. People can receive $8,000 for mortgage and utility help if they meet the requirements.

Those who are at least ages 65 or older with total household incomes of $32,000 or less can receive a 25% discount on their bills.


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