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Help for area seniors can come in many forms. You can donate money, volunteer your time, or become a referring agency. You can simply help someone you know weather the winter season.


What You Need to Know About Cold Stress
The elderly population is disproportionately affected by hypothermia (commonly known as cold stress), caused by excessive body heat loss and exposure to cold. Those who don’t dress warmly enough; live in a cold room or house; lack shelter from the snow, rain, wind, and water; eat poorly and take certain prescription medications* are at risk for cold stress. Cold stress can happen indoors, even at temperatures as mild as 60°- 70°F. Protect yourself and your loved ones this winter by learning about cold stress and following these simple guidelines:

Symptoms of Cold Stress:

  • Sleepiness (difficulty waking up)
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Weak, slow pulse
  • Slow breathing
  • Puffy face
  • Cold, stiff muscles
  • Trembling of one side of the body or in one arm or leg
  • Change in behavior or personality

How to Reduce Your Risk of Cold Stress:

  • Stay warm and dry, indoors and outdoors
  • Avoid exposure to snow, wind, rain and water/dampness
  • Dress warmly
    • Wear loose layers of clothing, especially woolens
    • Cover head and neck (wear a hat and scarf)
    • Wear gloves or mittens
    • Change socks and long underwear if they become damp or wet
    • Wear warm shoes and socks
  • Keep skin and clothing dry to lessen the chance of frostbite
  • Eat nutritious meals on a regular basis, especially a hot meal
  • Drink a lot of fluids

What To Do in an Emergency:

  • DO call 9-1-1 for medical assistance
  • DO cover head and neck
  • DO wrap in blankets, towels, extra clothes, or newspaper
  • DO handle the person gently
  • DO warm the person gradually
  • DO take off wet clothes and provide warm, dry clothing

What Not To Do in an Emergency:

  • DO NOT give hot drinks or hot food
  • DO NOT give alcohol or medications
  • DO NOT bathe or shower
  • DO NOT rub or massage arms or legs

* If taking medication for high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, poor circulation or sleeplessness, talk about hypothermia/cold stress with your doctor.

Click here to download:
Senior Tips for Weathering the Winter:

What You Need to Know About Cold Stress
(Microsoft Word Doc)

What You Need to Know About Weatherization
Poor insulation, drafty windows and clogged furnace filters are just a few of the things that can drive up heating bills this winter and raise the risk of developing hypothermia or cold stress. Weatherization, or protecting homes against cold winter weather, can help solve these problems and keep you warm and dry this winter. The following weatherization guidelines can help reduce heating costs and improve energy efficiency in homes:

Tips for Weatherizing Your Home:

  • Inspect home for cracks or openings around doors, windows, fireplaces, vents, and electrical outlets
  • Use caulk, weatherstrip or plastic to cover cracks and air leaks
  • Install storm windows and/or doors
  • Make sure doors fit snugly and are weatherstripped, repair any cracked glass or loose putty, and fix leaky faucets
  • Add insulation to the attic and other unheated areas such as basements, crawl spaces and areas around the garage
  • Keep thermostats between 68 and 70 degrees and lower the heat when not at home
  • Add extra blankets to the bed while sleeping
  • Open drapes to let in sunlight during the day
  • Close drapes at night (insulated drapes will prevent more heat loss)
  • Close the doors to unheated spaces and rooms
  • Have the furnace inspected each winter to ensure it is working properly and regularly replace the filters
  • Use kitchen and bath ventilating fans sparingly in cold weather, as these fans can blow away a houseful of warm air in a short period of time
  • If radiators are located near cold walls, place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room
  • Adjust heat registers to direct the flow of air across the floor to allow warm air to rise
  • Clean heat registers, baseboard heaters and radiators regularly and make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes
  • Set the temperature on the hot water heater to 120 degrees
Conserve Energy to Save Money:
Reducing energy usage by 10% can save $60 to $240 each year.
Here are some no-cost tips to help lower energy bills.
  • Laundry – Wash only full loads and use cold water. Clean the dryer’s lint filter after each load. Hang clothes to dry, when possible.
  • Kitchen – Run dishwasher only when full and manually air-dry dishes or use auto-dry feature. Don’t preheat oven unless necessary. Thaw frozen foods before cooking. Adjust refrigerator settings to 37-40 degrees F and limit opening/closing of door.
  • Lighting – Use task lighting, instead of lighting an entire room. Take advantage of natural daylight when possible and decorate with lighter colors to reflect light.
  • Water – Low-flow showerheads and faucets can reduce the amount of water used per day by half.
  • Heating – Turn your thermostat down 5-7 degrees, when you go out or to sleep. Use ceiling fans with the blades reversed to draw warm air down into room.

Sometimes the best way to help is by knowing where to find help, and who to contact in an emergency.

Bill Assistance

Crisis Program
City Crisis is federally funded to help low-income households in a heating crisis. For more information, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA)
ECA is a non-profit corporation that coordinates and provides energy services—including conservation, heater repair, energy education and bill payment assistance—for low- and moderate-income Philadelphians.

Homeowners Emergency Loan Program (HELP)
This program offers interest-free emergency loans payable over five years to customers who were issued a plumbing or drainage violation from the Philadelphia Water Department.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This federal program helps people with low incomes pay for primary or secondary heating costs. Available once a year for homeowners or renters.

PECO Customer Assistance Program (CAP)
CAP Rate offers a discount on the first 650 kWh of electric usage for low-income households (those at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines), and who are having difficulty making payments.

PGW Conservation and Customer Responsibility Program (CRP)
PGW offers this customer assistance program to help low-income customers afford and maintain gas service.

Philadelphia Water Department Water Revenue Assistance Program (WRAP)
WRAP provides cash assistance from the city of up to $200 to help low-income customers (those at or below 175% of poverty level) pay delinquent water bills.

Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF)
Privately funded, UESF helps people who have exhausted all other public sources of funding for gas, electric and water utility bills.

General Assistance

Community Legal Services (CLS)
The CLS Elderly Law Project specializes in helping seniors overcome
some of the unique problems faced by people over 60, including matters
related to energy assistance.

Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA)
ECA is a non-profit corporation that coordinates and provides energy services—including conservation, heater repair, energy education and bill payment assistance—for low- and moderate-income Philadelphians.

PCA Helpline
The PCA Helpline provides a wealth of information, help, education, energy assistance programs and other community resources.

PECO Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP)
This free conservation and education program for low-income customers helps reduce energy consumption by installing weatherizing measures and offering energy conservation tips.

Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC's)
Weatherization Program

Provides free weatherizing and energy efficiency improvements, for any fuel type, to both homeowners and renters. PHDC's 40 page Weatherization Manual with information on how to weatherize your home, reduce energy use and access energy-assistance programs is free. For a copy, call 215-686-9723.

SeniorLAW Center
Intake Line:  215-988-1244 (Mon.-Fri. 9am-1pm)
Pennsylvania SeniorLAW HelpLine: 
1-877-PA SR LAW (Mon.-Fri. 10am-1pm).

SeniorLAW Center provides free legal representation, counsel and
information for Philadelphia seniors in need.  They assist with a
variety of legal-related utility and housing issues, including:
wrongful shutoffs of utilities, utility contracts and warranties, home
repair and contractor fraud, financial exploitation, deed issues,
mortgage disputes, evictions, and tenants' rights. 

Stay Warm PA Initiative
State program to keep Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens warm and protected as cold weather approaches and homeowner energy bills are expected to jump as much as 48 percent.

Temple Elderly Law Project
Intake Line:  215-988-1244 (Mon.-Fri. 9am-12pm)
Provides free general assistance and referral services to persons 60
and over, including matters related to energy assistance.