Extreme Heat Resources

During extremely hot days, there are many things to do to stay safe and cool.  Resting for two hours indoors can significantly reduce heat-related illness. In addition to shopping malls, stores, or movie theaters, you may consider cooling off at one of our county facilities designated as “Cooling Centers”.

County Heat Plan Activation

Fairfax County will activate its heat plan when the National Weather Service issues an advisory, watch or warning for Fairfax County (usually 24 hours in advance).

  • Heat Advisory: issued when the heat index values is expected to reach 105 to 109 degrees within the next 12-24 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Watch: Issued when there is a potential for the heat index to reach or exceed 110 degrees within the next 24-48 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning: Issued when the heat index values is expected to reach or exceed 110 degrees within the next 12-24 hours.


  1. Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  2. Stay inside and out of the heat if possible. Save the yard work for another day or time.
  3. Visit indoor locations during operating hours to stay cool.
  4. Know the symptoms of heat-related illness. Heat stroke is an emergency, so call or text 9-1-1.
  5. Check on people with vulnerabilities in our community who may need help responding to the heat.
  6. Never leave children, older adults, or pets alone in a car.
  7. Fans create air flow but give a false sense of comfort and they do not reduce body temperature. Stay hydrated and take other steps to get cool.
  8. Our Department of Emergency Management and Security has more information about extreme heat, including important terms to know.

When Fairfax County’s heat plan is activated, supplies will be available for those who need it including water bottles, sunscreen, insect repellant, hats and cooling towels.

Fairfax County distributes supplies through outreach workers and other partners who go out into the community to check on unsheltered residents, shelters, drop-in centers, and meal sites. In 2023, these supplies were provided: 

27,524 Total Supplies Distributed at 62 County Cooling Centers and Community Partner Sites:7,075 Sunscreen Packets, 6,460 Body Wipes Packs, 6,000 Connector Ride Passes, 2,200 Insect Repellant Wipes, 2,328 Bottles of Water,  1,560 Reusable Water Bottles, 664 Cooling Towels, 423 Sun Hats, 414 Battery -Powered Fans,  400 Backpacks with Cooling Supplies

The Cooling Assistance program helps keep Fairfax County residents cool during the summer months through:

  • Payment of electric bills to operate cooling equipment.
  • Payment of security deposits for electricity to operate cooling equipment for accounts in danger of being disconnected or when a deposit is needed to begin service.
  • Repair of a central air conditioning system or heat pump.
  • Purchase of a whole-house fan, including ceiling or attic fans.
  • Purchase and installation, or self-pick-up, of one air conditioning unit (window or portable).

To be eligible, at least one household member must be: 60 or older; 5 or younger; or disabled according to Social Security, Medicaid or 100% Veteran’s Administration.

Are you in need of additional cooling during the summer? 

The Senior Cool Care Program is a program that helps low-income older citizens in our jurisdiction keep cool during summer months. This program does not provide financial assistance, but it provides additional cooling at home by providing fans for eligible older adults, age 60 and older.

The program runs May 1 through Oct. 31. If you are interested in learning more about the program, please call the Aging, Disability & Caregiver Resource Line at 703-324-7948.

Learn More

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This flyer is available in multiple languages:

Fairfax County is experiencing warmer, wetter, and weirder climatic conditions. Resilient Fairfax is a plan and program to help Fairfax County adapt and become more resilient to changing climate-related conditions such as extreme heat, severe storms, and flooding.

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