PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - As thousands of delegates arrive in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, it's not just politics they have to contend with -- it's also the hot and sticky weather.
The heat wave that descended on the city is expected show no mercy on Sunday with temperatures around 96 degrees. It could peak on Monday, the convention's first day, with temperatures possibly hitting 100 degrees, said Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Also, the heat index for Monday could be 105.
The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging Heatline -- 215-765-9040 -- is up and running, Sunday through midnight and Monday, 8:30am to 6pm. Operators are fielding calls from people wanting to know how best to handle the heat blasting the region.
Click here for FOX 29's complete coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
Many parts of the United States are experiencing higher than normal temperatures -- like most of the Midwest -- but the Philadelphia area is slated to be the hardest hit in the Northeast. Other parts of the region, including New York City, are in heat advisories. And the higher temperatures have brought powerful thunderstorms to some New England states, rain knocking out power to tens of thousands of residents.
In Arizona, where temperatures hit 112 on Friday, a 12-year-old boy died after becoming ill after a hike.
Along with the considerable amount of humidity, the heat index in the Philadelphia area could be pushed as high as 108 on Monday, Gaines said. Highs in the mid- to upper-90s are expected each day through Wednesday.
"The multiple days of excessive heat will greatly affect those who are attending outdoor activities, especially events with large groups of people that are gathering in the direct sun," the weather service said. Officials warned that in urbanized areas such as Center City Philadelphia, even nighttime temperatures may not drop below 80, especially Monday night. There also is the possibility of thunderstorms, such as the brief one which lashed Philadelphia during the late afternoon and evening on Saturday
To protect thousands of demonstrators expected during the July 25 to July 28 DNC, Philadelphia officials said two medic tents and two "misting" tents would be set up and water would be distributed. Medics also would be assigned to take part in marches.
Workers preparing for the convention and others in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon were trying to keep cool.
Will Adams, 69, of Pennsauken, New Jersey, stood next to a gigantic air conditioner under tents being erected outside the Comcast Center for a DNC event. He and the crew were putting up speakers and television screens as security fences were going up outside. He couldn't help but think wistfully about the mild weather during similar preparations for the papal visit last September.
"That was good weather then," he said.
Chris O'Brien, 36, of Flourtown, Pennsylvania, stood by a spray park -- a public water play site -- rocking his 2-month-old, Maeve, who was sleeping under the shade of a towel. He was waiting for the rest of his family while he watched former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter a few yards away, in a suit, shooting a CNN panel broadcast.
O'Brien said he and his family planned to spend a lot of time in air conditioning for the next few days.
"Libraries, the mall ... and we were thinking about going to the Please Touch Museum or the Franklin Institute. Whatever there is to do inside, we're doing it," he said.
Avere Scurry, 21, sitting behind the cash register at a pop-up beer garden across near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its famed "Rocky" steps, said staff members were taking precautions in the heat.
"It's not easy, but we have umbrellas so that helps. We have water. There's a trailer over there that's air conditioned ... so every couple of minutes we'll rotate and we'll sit in the air," Scurry said.
Hot weather tips from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging:
The PCA Heatline was born in 1993, following a heat wave the previous year that claimed 118 lives. It is a collaboration between PCA and Philadelphia's Health Department, and has been recognized as a model nationwide.
At PCA's Heatline call center, a team of trained staff counsels callers of all ages about precautions to take against the heat and detecting signs of heat stress and can recommend air-conditioned locations. When the Heatline is activated, nurses from the Philadelphia Department of Health are assigned to come to PCA, to address calls where it seems there may be a serious health issue. They in turn can activate a Health Department mobile relief team to go out and check on the individual; or call 9-1-1 if the situation seems more urgent.
The elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions, those on medication, and persons who live alone and receive few visitors are encouraged to call PCA's Heatline for advice on coping with the heat. In addition, callers may contact PCA's Heatline on behalf of another individual who may be at risk for heat stress.
PCA's Heatline is a non-emergency telephone service - IT IS NOT A FAN OR AIR CONDITIONER DISTRIBUTION SITE.
Neighbors, friends and relatives are urged to look in on elderly persons, as they may be especially vulnerable to the heat.
Sharon Congleton, PCA health promotion nurse supervisor, says that senior citizens, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at a greater risk heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stress.
"It is important for older adults to understand the dangers and potential complications that can occur from being exposed to severe heat. Older adults also need to know what they can do to prevent heat stress from occurring," she said.
Following are hot weather safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and PCA's Sharon Congleton:
Know when to ask for help. Symptoms of heat stress can include: loss of energy, loss of appetite, upset stomach, lightheadedness, prickly heat, heat cramps, heavy sweating, thirst, feeling faint, giddiness, confusion and/or nausea. If you or someone you know experiences one or more of these symptoms, move to a cool location and rest. Drink more fluids and remove any excess clothing. Call 911, if symptoms include any of the following: lack of sweat; combative behavior; hot, dry, flushed skin; body temperature of 105 degrees or above; throbbing headache; rapid heartbeat or breathing; convulsions; staggering; loss of consciousness; and/or confusion.
Check on elderly and homebound neighbors. Make sure they have enough to drink and check the conditions inside the home; fans should not be used inside a home with windows closed; this circulates hot air and creates a convection oven effect.
To avoid heat stress and dehydration:
Drink lots of water. Even if you're not thirsty, drink a glass of cold water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can cause your body to lose water; in hot weather, it is easy to become dehydrated, which is very dangerous to your health.
Stay cool. Turn on the air conditioning - don't try to save on energy bills during a heat wave. If you don't have air conditioning, go somewhere that is air-conditioned, like a neighbor's house, senior center, public library or shopping mall. If you can't get out of the house, stay on a lower floor, where it's cooler and open the windows. Use a fan only if the outside air is cooler than the inside air, and do not use a fan with the windows closed. Also, keep curtains or blinds closed during daylight hours to block out the sun.
Take a cool shower or bath, which can be more effective at cooling you down than using a fan.
Dress cool by wearing loose, light-colored clothing, which allows air to circulate and helps the body throw off heat. Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat outside.
Avoid the sun. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes loss of fluids. If you must be outdoors, apply sunblock with SPF 15 or greater. Stay in shaded areas when possible or use an umbrella. Best of all, plan outdoor activities in the early morning or evenings, when the sun is not as strong and temperatures are cooler.
Pace yourself. Rest often in cool or shaded areas. Also, limit physical activity during periods of high heat and sun.
Eat lightly. Avoid hot foods and heavy meals. Use your stove and oven less to keep room temperatures lower. If you must heat food, use a microwave. Add cool foods to your diet, like watermelon, cantaloupe, Jell-O or other fruits.