PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s Heat Health Emergency is still in effect, and now residents have another way to cool off. The city’s public pools begin opening Wednesday.
City pools start opening Wednesday on a rolling basis. Four pools will open Wednesday with 16 open by this weekend. It’s certainly welcome news for those looking for a spot to cool down.READ MORE: Brotherly Love: Broad Street Ministry Providing Services To Philadelphia's Most Vulnerable Population
During this sweltering stretch of hot weather, Philadelphians are looking for ways to cool down.
“I got the mango vanilla gelati,” one Philly resident said.
Water ice, not the only option anymore. Philadelphia city pools are opening on a rolling basis.
Chopper 3 was over the pools at James Finnegan Playground and Samuel Recreation Center – two out of the four city pools ready for visitors starting Wednesday.
“Excited, the kids need something, especially after COVID and being homeschooled for a year,” Andrea Atkins, of Brewerytown, said.
In all, 47 outdoor pools will open in the city of Philadelphia over the next few weeks. But doing so amid a pandemic and nationwide lifeguard shortage hasn’t been easy.
“It’s just been a hard thing to get people to want to go back to work,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.
More than two dozen city pools like the one at the East Poplar Rec Center in North Philly won’t open at all this season.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police: Woman Pedestrian Struck, Killed By Chaotic Driver In Center City, Others Injured In Second Hit-And-Run
City leaders say they’re having difficulty hiring lifeguards, even after bumping the starting pay to $15 an hour.
“I think it’s really sad. The kids here need recreation, especially in the sweltering heat and they have little relief but to go to the pool,” Philip Murray, of North Philly, said.
Mayor Jim Kenney blames the problem on some people not wanting to work – considering the extra $300 of weekly federal unemployment benefits.
“It’s been shown in just about every place where they’re short workers, that’s the problem – is that they’re making more staying in the air conditioning than they are standing by the pool,” Kenney said.
The city’s parks and rec department says the pools that are opening were selected based on past pool usage and neighborhood need.
And if more lifeguards are hired, more pools could reopen.
But not likely anytime soon.
If you need help finding ways to cool down in this heat, you can also call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Heatline at (215) 765-9040. The number has been activated during this Heat Health Emergency. They have a team of trained staff on hand to take your calls and questions and counsel callers on the signs of heat stress.
Remember, there are cooling centers available and 90+ spraygrounds in Philly, as well.MORE NEWS: President Biden To Visit Lehigh County On Wednesday, Visit Mack Trucks In Lower Macungie
For a full list of open pools, spraygrounds, cooling centers and more, click here.