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With Weather Cooperating, Philadelphia’s Elderly ‘Heatline’ Keeping Their Cool

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(Operators at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's "heatline."  File photo)

(Operators at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s “heatline.” File photo)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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CBS Philly (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSPhilly.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSPhilly.com/Health

By Mike Dunn

 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After that nasty winter, no one is complaining about the lack of excessively hot days so far this summer.

In fact, Philadelphia health officials have not yet had to activate the city’s “Heatline” for a single day, and there have no heat-related deaths.

Last year, eight summer days prompted “excessive heat warnings” from the city’s health department — warnings that trigger the opening of the Heatline at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.

This summer so far, two days have prompted the lesser “heat advisories,” but not a single “heat warning” has been issued.

Heidi Gambino, a help line supervisor at PCA, isn’t complaining, either.

“So far we’ve been pretty lucky,” she tells KYW Newsradio.  “The two official heat waves that Philadelphia has had have stopped in 72 hours, and we caught a break that they didn’t go any further and the heat index didn’t get any worse.   So they did not have to activate, officially at PCA, the Heatline.”

This is a welcome change, she says, from 2012 and 2013.   Two years ago, in fact, the Heatline had to be activated as early as late May.

“The last two summers were really horrible — really horrible,” Gambino recalls.  “It takes a big toll on our elderly population that PCA works with.”

During those excessive hot spells, she says, the Heatline is invaluable in giving seniors tips that can prove life-saving:

“How to stay cool, how to keep your house cool if you don’t have air conditioning or a fan.  We have nurses on standby from the Philadelphia Health Department, to go out to somebody’s home to check on them.  The public information that PCA provides is crucial to saving lives.”

This summer is not yet over, of course, and Gambino is well aware that it’s far too early to say we’re out of the woods.

“We hate to say that, because we have had times before.  Because we have times before — there seems to be no rhyme or reason — where we’ve been slammed (with heat waves) in August.”

 

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