Heat Safety Tips
Follow these tips to help beat the heat:
Drink plenty of fluids: Drink 2-4 glasses of cool fluids each
Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate
Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting
for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce
Plan outdoor activities around the heat: If you must go outside, go
before noon or at night when it's cooler. Avoid strenuous physical
activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually
the early morning.
Give your body a break: Heat is stressful on your body. Limit physical
activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
Eat light meals, avoiding high-protein foods because they increase
Don’t take salt tablets unless directed by a doctor.
Wear light-colored clothing, which helps reflect sunlight.
Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn makes it more difficult for
your body to cool off.
- Never leave children or pets unattended in a car—not even for a few minutes. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature in a car on a 93-degree day can soar to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees in 40 minutes.
People at greatest risk of getting sick from the heat are babies and young children, people 65 and older, people who are overweight, people who are already sick or on certain medicines, and people who overexert themselves by work or exercise.
People can suffer ill health effects when their body temperature control system is on overload. Your body temperature can shoot up when normal sweating can't cool it quickly enough in extreme heat. Damage to the brain or other vital organs can result from very high body temperatures. Several heat-related health conditions can cause serious health problems. People suffering from heat cramps and heat exhaustion may require medical attention. However, heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention.
Stay Cool Indoors
During extremely hot days, there's plenty you can do to stay cool, such as visiting a local library, taking in a movie, strolling through a shopping center, or visiting a community recreation center or senior center that is air-conditioned. Fairfax County has many air-conditioned facilities where you can conduct county business, get educated, be entertained or just find a place of respite to get out from the heat. Here are some examples:
- Library Branches
- Community Centers
- Park Authority RECenters
- Senior Centers
- Teen Centers
- Access Fairfax (South County Center)
- General county offices (directions)
Human Services Emergency Assistance
Residents who need immediate help with utility bills or other urgent human services assistance can call the county's Coordinated Services Planning staff in the Department of Systems Management for Human Services at 703-222-0880, TTY 703-803-7914. CSP staff can quickly connect residents with a network of services provided by public, private and community based organizations, as well as appropriate county government resources.
Cooling Assistance Program
Low-income Fairfax County residents who need help to keep their homes cool this summer and prevent a health emergency resulting from extreme heat may be able to get assistance from a federally funded program locally administered by the county’s Department of Family Services. The Cooling Assistance program helps eligible low-income households that include at least one person considered especially vulnerable to heat: a child under age six, a disabled individual, or an adult age 60 or older. Cooling assistance can be used to help with:
- Payment of electric bills to operate cooling equipment.
- Payment of security deposits for electricity to operate cooling equipment.
- Repair of a central air conditioning system or heat pump.
- Purchase of a whole-house fan, including ceiling or attic fans.
- Purchase and installation of one window unit air conditioner for households where there is no unit or where the unit must be replaced.
For more information or an application form, visit the Virginia Department of Social Services or call the Fairfax County Department of Family Services at 703-324-7604, TTY 703-222-9452. Applications can also be picked up at the county’s four DFS offices:
Fairfax - Pennino Building, 12011 Government
703-324-7500, TTY 703-222-9452
Falls Church, 6245 Leesburg Pike (Route 7), Falls
703-533-5300, TTY 703-533-5316
Reston - Lake Anne Office Building, 11484
Washington Plaza West, Reston
703-787-4900, TTY 703-707-9346
Richmond Highway/Alexandria - South County
Center, 8350 Richmond Hwy (Rt. 1)
703-704-6353, TTY 703-799-3435
The Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging also provides free fans to income-eligible senior adults who need them for health reasons. This program runs until Sept. 30, and seniors can apply for a fan by contacting Kim Karlinchak at 703-324-7694, TTY 703-449-1186.
Helping the Vulnerable Through the Heat
Fairfax County has many vulnerable populations, including the homeless, elderly and others with special medical needs. Their needs are heightened during conditions such as extreme heat. Faith communities, businesses, senior centers, community centers and other place of potential temporary shelter are encouraged to consider being charitable by opening doors for a few hours to help people stay cool and drink water. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. Also, if individuals need special attention, please take a few minutes to check in on them to ensure their well-being. If residents need immediate, life-saving help, please call 911. For other safety help, call the public safety non-emergency phone number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
“Leave your pets at home.” That is the advice Fairfax County Animal Services officers give pet owners during the summer months. Take the dog to the veterinarian’s office or to the dog park, but do not take it on errands, even when you are “just going to be a minute.”
Leaving a window down an inch or two is not enough to provide a safe
environment for your pet.
Fifteen minutes in a hot car is enough for animal body temperatures to
go from normal to deadly.
If the temperature is in the 60s or higher, many experts recommend not
leaving pets or children in parked cars, even for short periods. If you
must keep your pet in the car briefly, choose a shady spot, leave the
windows down as far as possible (and the pet restrained) or keep the
air conditioning on.
- If you see an animal in a parked car that appears to be in distress or could soon be in distress, call the Department of Public Safety Communications at 703-691-2131, TTY 711. Note the car make and model, license plate number and the location. If the pet owner might be in a nearby store, you can have the store page the owner over a public address system. Animal control officers, police officers and fire and rescue personnel have the authority to break into a car to rescue an animal in distress. Depending on the health of the animal at the time it is rescued, the owners can be charged with animal cruelty.
- Extreme Heat (FEMA)
- Heat Wave (American Red Cross)
- Prepare for Hot Weather Before it Happens (EPA)
- Seasonal Safety Information (Fairfax County)
- Water Conservation (Fairfax Water)