Hypothermia Center Building Safety Challenges

When a building is used as a temporary hypothermia center, the Virginia building code requires a higher level of safety that is equivalent to overnight housing. The following are a list of challenges that have been identified while visiting hypothermia sites throughout Fairfax County.

  1. A carbon monoxide detector is required in sleeping areas in buildings served by appliances fuled by gas, propane or oil.

  2. Interconnected smoke detectors are required in the sleeping areas and corridors.

  3. Exit signs shall be illuminated or photo-luminescent (glows in the dark) in the sleeping areas.

  4. Panic hardware (push bars) are required on exit doors of sleeping areas with an occupant load greater than 49.

  5. If a sleeping area and associated exits are not sprinklered, the room must have an exit directly to the outside and is limited to two weeks of use as a hypothermia shelter during the hypothermia season.


Ellen Eggerton
County Ombudsman for Religious and Community Groups
703-324-1861, TTY 711

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