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Stay cool, chill, avoid the sun, just take it easy

Officials advise caution as the region faces temperatures in the high 90s most of the week.

Parent-child teams race across Roberts Park Pool in Collingswood, part of the borough-owned pool's Fun on the Fourth celebration. (Tom Gralish / Staff)
Parent-child teams race across Roberts Park Pool in Collingswood, part of the borough-owned pool's Fun on the Fourth celebration. (Tom Gralish / Staff)Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Hot. Humid. Sticky. Relentless.

With temperatures threatening to reach 100 Monday and hover in the high 90s for most of the week, officials across the region are urging people to take cover.

The advice is to drink plenty of water; wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing; limit activity during the day; and, if possible, find a cool place to hide and stay there.

"If you have an air conditioner, you should use it," said Heidi J. Gambino, help-line supervisor for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.

Some, namely the elderly, she noted, try to conserve energy costs by not using their air conditioners.

But, Gambino cautioned, "do not use a fan in a closed room, because it will create a convection-oven effect."

Those most vulnerable for heat stress include small children, those with chronic medical conditions, people who work outdoors, and the elderly, according to area health officials.

The warning signs include loss of energy, loss of appetite, nausea, light-headedness, and heavy sweating.

But "those at risk in the heat shouldn't wait for a warning," urged Philadelphia Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran. "They could take precautions to avoid exertion when it's hot."

In the case of a medical emergency, Moran said, sufferers should call 911.

So far this year, there have been four heat-related deaths in the city.

On June 2, a 50-year-old man was found at Eighth and Walnut Streets in Center City with a core body temperature of 105, the starting point for hyperthermia.

On June 3, a 77-year-old man was found in his second-floor bedroom, with all his windows shut.

On June 28, a 46-year-old woman was found in her bedroom also with the windows closed. That same day, an 88-year-old man was found in his first-floor bedroom, windows closed, and a fan blowing.

Moran urged neighbors and caretakers to check on those most at risk during the lingering heat wave.

If there is a heat advisory, 13 Delaware County senior centers will extend their hours and check on at-risk patrons, said Louis G. Colbert, director of the County Office of Services for the Aging.

In Upper Darby, the Health Department will monitor the heat and make necessary adjustments, said assistant director Matt Verdi. That includes possibly opening "a comfort station" in Upper Darby High's cafeteria, serving water and snacks to those needing to escape the heat.

Health officials also advised people to avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both cause the body to lose water more quickly, leading to dehydration.

And people should not leave children or pets unattended in cars.

Camden and Gloucester Counties will have designated "cool spots," for residents, according to county officials. Gloucester will also offer "nutrition sites" for seniors, said Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Debra Sellitto.

In Burlington County, residents are encouraged to find refuge in libraries, malls, and other cool public spaces, said Bill Weisgarber, program manager of disease prevention and control.

In Philadelphia, the Fire Department has turned on its sprinkler program at neighborhood hydrants. There is a Code Red in place to tend to the city's homeless population. And the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging has activated its heat line to provide all residents with information and tips. Residents can also call 311 for ways to cope with the humidity.