The power just having gone out on our block, I figure it's a good time for a public-service announcement about the heat.
If anyone you know is suffering from the weather, which is expected to feel like 100 degrees for a few days, tell them about the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's heatline. It's 215-765-9040, and was activated Saturday at 2 p.m. The heatline will stay staffed until Wednesday, or until the National Weather Service calls off its excessive heat warning.
The heatline is a counseling service. City Health Department nurses take the calls. They're able to dispatch mobile relief teams and notify 911 for emergencies. It's not a number to call for fans or air conditioners.
I learned of the site while house-sitting for a neighbor Saturday. Linda Riley works for the PCA, and I should have known she was sensitive to the heat, when she sat me down in a wicker chair on the corner of her porch and handed me an ice tea. Decaf.
"No sodas with caffeine, no alcohol," she began. It got worse. "A fan is not your friend in this weather if you're in a closed room."
"If it's only blowing hot air, it's dehydrating you. It takes away your sweat, which is a natural coolant, and makes you sweat some more."
Linda gave a few cheap and easy suggestions for how to beat the heat if you have no air conditioning. Get on a Septa bus. Bring an ID, and it's free for seniors, off-peak. Or go to a movie. If you're house-bound, plop your feet in a bucket of cold water. Place a cold towel or an ice pack on the back of your neck.
"Water's the best thing," she said. "Take a shower or a cool bath. Drink lots of water. No mint juleps. Sorry."
And tell grandma to stay out of that fountain.