Be Prepared: Emergency Resources in Philadelphia


Be ready for any type of emergency situation in Philadelphia. Learn who to contact in case of a disaster and who can provide shelter and other services. The city has a number of emergency resources, both public and private, to help residents out.


Philadelphia has seen its fair share of emergency weather events over the years. The city’s emergency resources are designed to give you the tools and information you need to safely weather a storm or get through a dangerous situation. Know what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency to keep yourself safe.

Water Department

The Philadelphia Water Department operates a 24-hour emergency hotline. If you notice a water or sewer leak, call 215-685-6300, and someone from the water department will come to check out the issue. The department’s response depends on the source of the leak; it will handle leaks related to water mains. If the leak is coming from the water service pipe leading into your home, you are responsible for the repairs. The water department also handles emergency situations such as water main breaks. The city has more than 3,000 miles of pipe running underneath the streets. In cases when a pipe bursts, the department will work to repair it and restore water service within eight hours.

Office of Emergency Management

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) provides emergency resources to residents, including advice on how to prepare for a disaster. OEM recommends that every resident have a plan for emergencies, an emergency kit, and a “go bag” at the ready. An emergency plan should include a meeting place for residents of a home, names and phone numbers of people living in the house, and any important medical information. A kit should contain enough food and water to last each person in the home at least three days. The OEM also operates an emergency alert system. Registering for the system means that you receive text messages or emails about what to do in the event of an emergency.

Red Cross

The Southeastern PA chapter of the American Red Cross provides emergency resources and services to Philly residents. The organization operates a temporary housing facility in the city for people who have been pushed out of their homes by a disaster. It also operates shelters in the event of a weather emergency and distributes food and supplies to victims of a disaster.


Hurricanes and tornadoes aren’t as common in Philadelphia as snowstorms and blizzards are. The city has created SnowCat to inform people of the level of danger a snowstorm might present and to let residents know the city’s response. SnowCat determines the level of emergency based on a person’s address and lets you know how the city will respond. Category 1 is the least dangerous while Category 5 is the most dangerous. Category 5 means at least 12 inches of snow and might be declared a snow emergency by the mayor.

KYW Newsradio

In the event of a weather emergency, KYW newsradio, channel 1060 AM, can inform you of school and business closings and keep you up to date on any developments from the city. If you have a battery-powered radio, you’ll be able to access information from the station even if your home loses power or loses its connection to the internet.

Photo Source: Flickr


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