It’s Hot Outside … and it Feels Even Hotter

Posted at 10 a.m.

Many of us complained about the weather during the recent rains and of course we muttered this past winter about the cold and snow.

And now? Well, summer is here and that means it’s time to begin the complaining about the heat! And according to the National Weather Service (NWS), heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the U.S., resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year from heat stroke and even more instances of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

The forecast predicts temperatures in the low- to mid-90s today and tomorrow, continuing the week’s streak of 90-plus°F (Fahrenheit) temperatures. While the most dangerous heat is expected today, it will be hot and humid through Saturday with the heat index in the mid 90s to near 100 each afternoon.

Not only is it hot, but the heat index also makes these already hot temps feel even hotter. The index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. For example, a temperature of 94°F can feel like 97°F all the way up to 135°F depending on the humidity level.

Heat Index National Weather Service

Since heat index values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, exposure to full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15°F. Also, strong winds, particularly with very hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous.

 

Heat Illness

During extremely hot and humid weather, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and you or someone you care about may experience a heat-related illness. It is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

heat exhaustion or heat stroke

Muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.

Stay Cool

To keep cool during extreme heat, follow this general advice:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
  • 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.
    • Ensure your home’s cooling system is working properly before it is truly needed.
    • 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, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities, including the county’s cooling centers.
    • Electric fans may provide comfort, but with temperatures in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule outdoor activities for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn makes it more difficult for your body to cool off.
    • Wear light-colored clothing, which helps reflect sunlight.
  • Eat light meals, avoiding high-protein foods because they increase metabolic heat.
  • Don’t take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.

Learn more about extreme heat and how to stay safe, as well as precautions to take for the vulnerable and pets.

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

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