Gov. Wolf Encourages Pennsylvanians to Take Precautions with Dangerously High Temperatures Throughout Commonwealth
August 12, 2021
As record-high temperatures and heat watches and warnings exist across the state today and tomorrow, Governor Tom Wolf is asking all Pennsylvanians to heed advice to stay informed, aware and take precautions against heat-related illnesses. Temperatures in the 90s, combined with high humidity, can lead to dangerous, even deadly conditions.
“As we experience another heat wave throughout the commonwealth, we all need to take these heat warnings very seriously,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s critically important that Pennsylvanians pay attention to weather reports, heat warnings, and what the experts are telling us about heat safety.”
The Wolf Administration is urging all Pennsylvanians to take steps to keep themselves and their loved ones, including pets, safe from potentially deadly heat-related illnesses. Infants and children, older adults, and people suffering from illness may be less able to respond to extreme temperatures and taking certain medications can affect how one’s body responds to heat.
All Pennsylvanians are urged to follow these safety tips to avoid heat-related illnesses:
- Drink plenty of water and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids;
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, as they can cause dehydration (loss of body fluids);
- Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible – this is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death;
- Avoid long periods in the direct sun or in unventilated rooms;
- If you must be outside in the heat, reschedule activities for cooler times of the day, and try to rest often in shady areas;
- Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses – and use a sunscreen of SPF15 or higher;
- Take frequent baths or showers and remain in a cool place;
- Check on those who might be more at risk from high temperatures like infants, children, or older individuals; and
- Never leave your children or pets inside vehicles.
“Exposure to high temperatures for long periods of time can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said. “We ask all Pennsylvanians to be a good neighbor and check on people who may have limited mobility or may not have a way to escape the heat.”
The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Warning signs include extreme body temperature, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness and confusion. If you or loved ones develop heat stroke symptoms, get medical assistance right away. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.
Pennsylvania’s network of Area Agencies on Aging, listed here at the Department of Aging’s website, is a great resource for seniors or their caregivers to find senior centers acting as cooling centers if needed and Ready.pa.gov and health.pa.gov offer tips on staying safe and comfortable during this heat wave.
“Excessive heat can make older adults especially vulnerable to heat-related illness that can quickly escalate into an emergency,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “The Department of Aging and the Area Agencies on Aging remind caregivers and loved ones of older adults to please check in with them to make sure they are safe and healthy. Older adults looking for heat-related support such as an open senior center or other cooling station in their community should contact their local Area Agency on Aging for assistance.”
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) offered simple #WaysToStayCool tips to help residents stay comfortable, conserve energy and keep their bills manageable.
- Fan Yourself – Fans circulate the air, keeping you feeling cooler, even at higher temperatures.
- Follow the Shade – Relax in rooms that do not receive direct sunlight.
- Block the Heat – Use window blinds and coverings at the sunniest time of day to reduce unwanted heat buildup.
- Don’t Add Extra Heat – Postpone using heat-producing appliances, such as clothes dryers, dishwashers and stoves until it is cooler.
- Check your Thermostat – The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill.
- Clean is “Green” – Clean and replace air conditioner filters regularly and make sure air circulation paths are clear.
- Power Off – Turn off non-essential appliances and lights to reduce power use and unwanted heat.
- Don’t Cool Unneeded Space – Close off unused rooms and adjust air vents or thermostats to avoid unnecessary cooling expenses.
The PUC notes that hot and humid weather can prompt PJM – the region’s power transmission organization – to issue “Hot Weather Alerts”, preparing utilities and generation operators for conditions that could stress the power grid and working to ensure that resources are available to meet energy demands. The PUC is in close communication with grid operators, utilities and other key stakeholders during these types of weather event continues to actively monitor utility systems across the state.
Employer/Employee Related Resources
“Keeping Pennsylvania workers safe during times of extremely hot weather can be challenging at times, but is always necessary,” said Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier. “Employers should be sure that workers are drinking plenty of water, taking breaks in shaded areas, and resting when necessary, especially if they spend most of their day outside or in an environment without air conditioning.”
For those who are working, employers should have a heat-illness prevention program in place that ensures workers receive plenty of water often and take frequent rest and shade breaks, trains workers to recognize symptoms of heat-related health effects, and monitors workers for signs of illness. The Department of Labor & Industry has various heat-related workplace safety resources available for employers, including a document on heat related injuries and PowerPoint, that provide guidance on working safely in higher temperatures.
Livestock and Pets
“If you are hot, your animals are hotter,” said Redding. “Take necessary precautions to protect them during this extreme heat. Heavy panting, slobbering, lack of coordination or anxiousness are all signs of an animal in distress. Know these signs but do everything you can to prevent this stress for both livestock and domestic pets.”
Livestock and pet owners should take appropriate precautions to protect their animals from high temperatures that can cause them to suffer from heat-related stress and illness. Provide shade and water, postpone procedures such as vaccines or hoof trimming until weather is cooler, avoid unnecessary transportation, never leave pets in a hot car, and take pets for walks in early morning or late hours.
If you suspect animal abuse or neglect and would like to report it, you should contact your local humane society police officer or local police station. In the absence of local police, contact the Pennsylvania State Police. Pennsylvania dog wardens do not have jurisdiction over animal cruelty.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has been working closely with county emergency management officials to monitor conditions. Many counties will post information on their websites or social media accounts as cooling centers open and close.
Anyone who needs specifics can call their county emergency management agency, keeping in mind that a closer location may be in a neighboring county rather than the one where they reside.
“PEMA has been in touch with our county partners to make sure they have what they need to keep people safe,” Randy Padfield, PEMA director said. “At this time, no counties have asked for state assistance but we stand ready to work with our state agency partners to provide whatever resources may be needed over the next few days.”