Fairfax County Offers Heat Safety Tips

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)

June 5, 2008

Fairfax County Offers Heat Safety Tips

With the arrival of warmer weather and high heat index today and this weekend, Fairfax County encourages residents to stay safe by seeking relief from the heat, especially those who may be without electricity.

Heat takes the greatest toll on the very young and the very old, especially children younger than 5 and adults 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.

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. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning and drinking water can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.

Residents may visit county facilities such as senior centers, community centers and libraries for temporary respite from the heat, however, residents should call the facility first to verify hours of operation.

Also, residents are encouraged to take a few minutes to check in on individuals who need special attention to ensure their well-being. Residents who need immediate, life-saving help should call 9-1-1. For other safety help, call the public safety non-emergency phone number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

To keep cool, follow this general advice:

  • Drink plenty of water; 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.

Fairfax County residents who receive electrical service from Dominion Virginia Power and who are experiencing a power outage should call the company at 1-888-667-3000. Fairfax County customers of Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative should report outages to 1-888-335-0500.

For residents who are without power and are using a generator, please remember:

  • Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring. Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet.
  • Don’t overload the generator.
  • Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.
  • Use the proper power cords.
  • Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
  • To prevent electrical shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Do not store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.
  • Keep children away from portable electric generators at all times.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department recommends that residents use products such as battery-operated or electric candles and flashlights rather than open-flame candles. If residents do elect to use open-flame candles, the following safety measures are recommended:

  • Do not place candles near combustible materials such as upholstered furniture.
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with an open flame.
  • Do not place candles on window ledges or near entryways – the potential air draft can “fan” the flame, catching curtains or other materials on fire.
  • Keep burning candles within sight at all times. Candles can present fire hazards outdoors on decks and patios as well as inside the home.
  • Always extinguish candles before leaving the home.
  • Use holders designed for the particular candle style.
  • Place all candles on a protected, heat-resistant, dry surface away from anything that can catch fire and out of the reach of children and pets.

For more information about generator or candle safety, contact the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Public Affairs and Life Safety Education, 703-246-3801, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire.

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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