Helping the Vulnerable Through Summertime Heat

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

Aug. 6, 2007

Helping the Vulnerable Through Summertime Heat

The needs of Fairfax County’s vulnerable populations, including the homeless, elderly and those with special medical needs, are heightened during conditions such as extreme heat. To help meet those needs, faith communities, businesses, senior centers, community centers and other places of potential temporary shelter are encouraged to consider opening their 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, residents who know individuals who need special attention are encouraged to take a few minutes to check in on them to ensure their well-being. If residents need immediate, life-saving help, call 9-1-1. For other safety help, call the public safety non-emergency phone number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

Heat takes the greatest toll on the very young and the very old, especially children younger than 5 and those older than 65. Intense summer temperatures also greatly affect people who are already sick or take certain medications, including diuretics, antihistamines, beta-blockers and tranquilizers.

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 two programs locally administered by the county’s Department of Family Services.

  • The Cooling Assistance Program, which is federally funded, helps eligible low-income households with at least one person considered especially vulnerable to heat: a child under age 6, a disabled individual or someone age 60 or older. Applications for this year’s Cooling Assistance Program are being accepted through Wednesday, Aug. 15. For more information or an application form, visit the Virginia Department of Social Services Web site or call the Fairfax County Department of Family Services at 703-324-7604, TTY 703-222-9452.

  • The Fan Care Program is another way to help older area residents stay safe in the summer heat. This electric fan distribution program, sponsored by Dominion Virginia Power in partnership with the Virginia Department for the Aging, annually provides about 200 free fans and/or window air conditioners to eligible older adults in the Fairfax area. The Fan Care Program began on June 1 and runs through the end of September. To request an application and for further information, call Kim Karlinchak in Fairfax County’s Department of Family Services, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging, at 703-324-7694, TTY 703-449-1186.

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. County staff can connect residents with a network of services provided by public, private and community-based organizations, as well as appropriate county government resources.

To keep cool as the summertime heat continues, Fairfax County encourages residents to follow this general advice:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.

  • Stay indoors as much as possible. Spend time in an air-conditioned place if possible; resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.

  • In Fairfax County there are many public buildings such as libraries and RECenters, and private places such as malls, that are cool and can provide respite from the heat.

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning.

  • Eat light meals.

  • 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 the 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.

For more information about ways to stay cool during the heat and other resources, visit


Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.

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