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Fairfax County Cooling Centers Offer Relief from the Heat and High Humidity

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Bright SunshineThis week we’ll experience the summer heat with temperatures in the low 90s and heat indices over 100 degrees. While not issued for Fairfax County as a whole (at the time of this article), a National Weather Service heat advisory is in effect from noon today to 7 p.m. for the Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church areas.

Heat indices will be around 105 degrees today and hover around that mark most of the week.

Fairfax County Cooling Centers

With the temperature and heat index, there is an increased risk of heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period.

During extremely hot days, there is plenty that you can do to stay cool, like go to a movie, stroll through a shopping center or visit one of Fairfax County’s Cooling Centers:

You are encouraged to check the operating hours to ensure the facility is open before arriving.

Remember that resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.

  • Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside.
  • Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour.
  • When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, which helps reflect sunlight.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a car – not even for a few minutes.
  • If you know someone needing special attention, you are encouraged to take a few minutes to check in on them to ensure their well-being.

There are many tips online for staying cool; heat safety tips are available online also. Residents who need help to keep their home cool may be able to get assistance from two programs locally administered by the county.

Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency — call 9-1-1 for immediate, life-saving help.

Video: Summer Heat Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe in Cars

Posted at 1 p.m.

Leaving a child or pet in an unattended vehicle is preventable. Unfortunately though, it does happen. The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke.

In the video below, Lucy Caldwell of our Police Department offers some tips parents and caregivers can use to ensure that our most precious cargo — our children — are never left unattended in a vehicle again.

 

Related Articles

Audio: Police Offer Tips to Keep Children and Pets Safe

Posted at 3:55 p.m.
 

We’re focusing this week on safety for children and pets in the summer heat — specifically on ensuring that they aren’t left unattended in vehicles.

Today, Andy Wehrlen of our Police Department offers guidance on what residents can do. He notes that we’re all busy, but with a little thought and pre-planning, our most precious cargo — our children — will be safe.

 

Wehrlen adds, “As you’d never leave your children alone in a vehicle, never leave pets in a parked car.”

 

Take a few minutes today and take these action steps. Commit to “look before you lock” the doors and make sure no child or pet is left unattended in a vehicle.

Earlier articles:

Keep Pets Safe in the Heat

Posted at 2:15 p.m.

As temperatures rise this summer, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter reminds residents to keep pets safe in the heat, whether at home, at the beach or traveling.

 

Here’s some additional tips:

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact police.
  • Shade and water are vital to pets. Pet owners must provide adequate shelter protecting animals from the adverse effects of heat. A dog house in the backyard with no access to shade does not protect animals from sun.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath and remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. If your pet shows signs such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, fever, dizziness, restlessness, excessive thirst and profuse salivation, contact your veterinarian immediately. Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature; apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest, provide water and ice cubes for hydration, and move the animal into the shade or air-conditioning.

While the temperature today is not a scorcher, it’s still hot enough if you don’t remember to look after your pets. After all, they too are part of your family.

Yesterday we provided information on heat, kids and unattended cars. Join us the remainder of the week as we’ll continue to focus on heat, children and pets.

Heat and Unattended Kids in Cars Do NOT Go Together

 

Leaving children and pets unattended in cars is often emphasized during hot weather, although it’s something we need to think about daily.

With temperatures in the 90s this week — and rising the rest of the summer — we’re going to focus this week on this important topic. Today, we start with some quick tips and a checklist to remind us to look before you lock your car.

The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke — that’s one every 9 days. And it doesn’t just happen elsewhere. Just this past weekend a local 8-month-old baby was left in a car and died.

How Does this Happen?

There are several factors that contribute to children being inadvertently forgotten by care givers. Paramount is the fact that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. The most common factors include a change in one’s normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, distractions and hormone changes. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi‐task is diminished.

As parents know, life with newborns and small children is full of stress, sleep deprivation and distractions. And young children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their car seats; becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers. And sadly, for babies with rear‐facing seats, the seat looks the same from the front seat – whether occupied or not.

Never Leave Your Children Alone in a Vehicle – Not Even for a Minute!

  • Some people may think it’s OK to leave children in cars to run an errand, so they crack the window open. Some people may literally forget about a quiet, sleeping child in the back of their car as happens dozens of times a year across the country. Regardless, know the dangers. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Put something you’ll need like your cellphone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. Kids and Cars calls this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
  • Use drive‐thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) instead of “running in for just a minute.”
  • And if you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved and call 9-1-1 immediately. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible.

Kids and Cars Safety Checklist - don't leave children or pets unattended in vehicles!

For additional information about ways to keep children safe in and around vehicles, visit www.KidsAndCars.org.

 

Stay Safe in the Sun this Summer and Avoid Heat Illness

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

It's Hot Outside; Stay Cool and Hydrated

Whether you are playing or working outside this summer, you need to take precautions to stay safe in the sun. As part of our National Safety Month series, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management offer these tips.

Be Sun Smart

  • Cover up: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brim hat, and wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Ideal sunglasses block 99-100 percent of the UV rays (both UVA and UVB).
  • Use Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher: The number of the SPF represents the level of sunburn protection provided. The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Put on sunscreen before you go outside even on cloudy or cool days. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are active and sweating or swimming. Old sunscreens should be thrown away because they lose their potency after one to two years.June is National Safety Month
  • Limit direct exposure:  UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit time outdoors during these hours and seek shade whenever possible.
  • Drink fluids: Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity level. Water or sports beverages are recommended. Stay away from beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol or large quantities of sugar.
  • Stay indoors: Stay in air conditioning in places like your home, or a local shopping center or library. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler before you go back into the heat.
  • Check family and friends: Keep an eye on family members, friends and neighbors. Pay close attention and check regularly on young children and those 65 or older. Here are additional sun safety tips for babies and children.

Two types of heat illness

More  information on summer and heat safety is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You also may want to watch this video from the National Institutes of Health – Protecting Yourself From Skin Cancer. Get a heat safety fact sheet (pictured above) from OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Spanish verion); more tips on OSHA’s heat safety Web page.

Heat-related Illnesses and Heat Safety

June is National Safety Month

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

Heat-related illnesses (heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke) can occur when high temperatures overcome the body’s natural ability to dissipate heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Older adults, young children and people with chronic medical conditions are particularly susceptible to these illnesses. The CDC notes that from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.

As part of National Safety Month, the county’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay safe in the summer heat.

Heat Safety Basics

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
  • Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but with temperatures in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • 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. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a car — not even for a few minutes.                
  • Older adults and those with special medical needs are at an increased risk of developing heat related illnesses. Check on elderly relatives and neighbors during periods of extreme heat.

National Environment Public Health Tracking Network

Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and heat stroke with this information  from Fairfax County. More information and hot weather tips is also available from the CDC.

Dealing with Extreme Heat

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat, the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, today posted several tips on dealing with extreme heat:

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
  • When the weather is extremely hot, stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in air-conditioned public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Even at home, check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities; protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day and take frequent breaks.

Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. Simple first aid treatment can relieve symptoms of over-exposure and even save lives.

  • For heat cramps, move the person to a cooler location. Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms, and give the person sips of cool water every 15 minutes.
  • Heat exhaustion is evidenced by dizziness, nausea and exhaustion, as well as pale, cool skin. Get the person to lie down in a cool place and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths, and give the person sips of water.
  • Heat stroke can be a severe medical emergency and requires immediate attention. With heat stroke, the person will probably not sweat unless sweating from a recent strenuous activity. The person will probably have hot, red skin and a rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing. They might be unconsciousness. Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the person to a hospital immediately. Move them to a cooler environment and try a cool bath or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.

When heat waves strike, conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Don’t take chances. Use common sense and take the proper precautions. For more suggestions, visit www.ready.gov/heat.

Heat Visits Us Again Friday

Posted 9:59 a.m.

Another heat advisory is in effect from noon to 7 p.m. today. The heat index will be over 100 degrees. Yesterday on this blog, we shared four simple ways we can keep ourselves and each other safe.

One of those ways to keep our whole community safe, including our furry friends, is to never leave pets unattended in vehicles. The image below helps illustrate and our animal control officers provide more tips to protect our pets in the heat.

Dog with bowl of water; share this image to help pet parents know the signs of heatstroke

Four Ways We Can Beat the Heat

sun glassesThe heat is with us once again today with heat index values of over 100 degrees.

We’ve written about the heat continuously on this blog in recent weeks, but it can affect many of you and your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

So we have a four “asks” for you today and every time it’s hot:

  1. Check on elderly relatives and neighbors.
  2. Never leave small children or pets unattended in vehicles. Temperatures inside the vehicle can rapidly climb to 130 degrees.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids.
  4. Stay in an air-conditioned room.

If for some reason you lose electricity or don’t have air conditioning, some of our county facilities are open to you, such as libraries, RECenters and community centers. They serve as an opportunity for you to seek relief from the heat with air conditioning during normal business hours. In addition, you may visit numerous private facilities such as movie theaters, shopping centers and malls as a way to get out of the heat.

If you have a family member or neighbor in need of urgent human services assistance due to the heat, please call 703-222-0880, TTY 711, for information and referrals.

If you have a life threatening emergency, call 911, TTY 711.

Heat Advisory Issued for Wednesday, July 18

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, in effect from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 18. A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

Heat index values are expected to be around 105 degrees; maximum temperatures will be around 100. Residents are encouraged to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay in an air-conditioned room.
  • Stay out of the sun.
  • Check on elderly relatives and neighbors.
  • Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible.
  • Never leave small children or pets unattended in vehicles. Temperatures inside the vehicle can rapidly climb to 130 degrees.
  • If you work or spend time outside, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency – call 9-1-1.

Get the weather forecast.

Forecasts Predict Record Weekend Temperatures – Keep Safe and Cool

Posted 12:30 p.m.

The record-breaking heat wave will continue into the weekend, with temperatures on Saturday in the triple digits and a forecasted heat index of about 115⁰ F.

The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. The Fairfax County Health Department encourages residents to take these steps to stay safe and comfortable during these hot summer days.

Reduce/Alter Outdoor Activities

  • Children, the elderly and individuals with heart or respiratory ailments, emphysema, asthma or chronic bronchitis should reduce outdoor activities.
  • Healthy individuals should limit strenuous outdoor work or exercise and should limit their outdoor activities.
  • To reduce risk during outdoor work, schedule frequent rest breaksin shaded or air conditioned environments.
  • Reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Approximately 300 homes in Fairfax County remain without power. Consider visiting a friend or a public place such as a mall or library to keep cool. Most county RECenters are open so you can beat the heat, shower and recharge your cellphones, medical devices and other electronic devices.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour if you are in a hot environment. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
  • More heat safety tips.

Preserve Air Quality

The past week has been filled with Code Orange air quality days when pollution levels are harmful to children and anyone with breathing or heart conditions. More air quality alert days may be on the way.

  • Limit driving and when possible, combine trips, telework, carpool or use mass transit, including Fairfax Connector.
  • Refuel vehicles after dusk and limit idling.
  • Avoid mowing lawns with gasoline-powered motors.
  • Don’t use chemicals on your lawn and gardens.
  • Put off painting until air quality improves.

Learn more about air quality and check daily and three-day forecasts.

Conservation

The high temperatures are likely to stress utility systems this weekend. Help everyone out by conserving power:

Extra Care for Children

Even when the temperatures are at their hottest, kids rarely slow down. Be sure to plan ahead and alter activities to keep children safe and comfortable.

  • Never leave children in a car – not even for a few minutes.
  • Plan activities to keep kids active and occupied indoors.
  • Keep your children hydrated.
  • Dress your child appropriately, in light-weight, light-colored clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen when your child will be outdoors.

Keep Pets Safe

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact police.
  • Shade and water are vital to pets.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath.
  • Remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Signs that your pet may need further attention.

Be Prepared

The weekend may see additional thunderstorms, so be prepared in case your power goes out again.

Emergency Operations Center Remains Activated

Posted 9:15 a.m.

Our emergency operations center remains activated this morning as we continue to monitor and help those affected by Friday’s storm. Virginia Dominion Power reports that less than 1 percent of its serviced homes in Fairfax County remain without power. We continue to coordinate with Dominion Virginia Power and receive the latest updates (view outage map).

It’s going to be very hot again today. Please follow these safety tips to stay hydrated and indoors if possible.

Heat Advisory Until 9 p.m.

Posted 11:32 a.m.

Cups of water

Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.

A heat advisory begins at noon today until 9 p.m. It’s going to be very hot again.

  • Heat index values will be 100 to 105 degrees.
  • Maximum temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.
  • There is a risk of heat exhaustion or other heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those spending time outdoors for an extended period.

If you’re without power, then most county RECenters —except one— is open with extended hours so you can beat the heat, shower, and recharge your cellphones, medical devices and other electronic devices.

Please review these quick safety tips if you still do not have power, before you head outdoors to parades, fireworks or other gatherings today:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour if you are in a hot environment. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
  • More Heat Safety Tips.

Some more quick tips from the Office of Emergency Management’s Sulayman Brown:

Storm Aftermath Update: Tuesday Afternoon

Posted 7 p.m.

A state of emergency remains in effect for Fairfax County and Virginia as a result of the severe storms that impacted our area Friday night.

Here’s what you need to know:

July 4

9-1-1 and Non-Emergency Numbers

Power

  • In Fairfax County, 32,249 Dominion customers and 47 NOVEC customers are without power as of 5 p.m. today  
    • Dominion Virginia Power outages and downed wires: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; view outage map
    • NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) outages and downed wires: 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711; view outage reports
  • Stay away from downed wiresas they may be live with electricity.
  • Do not use candles as they may pose a fire threat.
  • Be sure to operate generators safely.

Roads

  • A number of roads (PDF) are still impacted by damage from the storm. The list is updated as information becomes available.
  • Treat intersections with traffic lights that are out or flashing as four-way stops; the driver on the right has the right-of-way. Traffic rules during power outages.
  • For the latest info, call VDOT at 511 or 1-800-FOR-ROAD.

Tree and Debris Removal

Water

  • There are no water restrictions in place.
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