Thunderstorms rumble across Philadelphia region before DNC

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention got an early wake-up call as thunderstorms rumbled through Philadelphia.

The storms packed heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds and briefly eased the heat and humidity that are baking the region.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect until 6pm Monday for Philadelphia, Delaware, eastern Chester, eastern Montgomery and lower Bucks counties. Forecasters say the heat and humidity will combine to make it feel like it's 105 degrees.

A heat advisory is in effect for most of Pennsylvania, with the heat index in triple digits.

Two medic tents, two misting tents and water will be available 24 hours a day to protesters in FDR Park, near the Wells Fargo Center convention site. Mayor Jim Kenney strongly discouraged people from camping in parks, which is against a city edict.

Forecasters say there's also a chance for another round of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging Heatline -- 215-765-9040 -- is up and running Monday, 8:30am to 6pm. Operators are fielding calls from people wanting to know how best to handle the heat blasting the region.

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.