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It’s Hot Out There; Here’s How to Keep Your Cool

Posted at 11 a.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat advisory from noon until 8 p.m. Heat index values are expected to be between 102 – 107 degrees. There also is a marginal risk for a strong or severe thunderstorm.

Wally Simmons of our Risk Management Division has some good tips for staying cool and safe outside, especially for those who have to work outside during high heat.

According to the weather service, heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.

Heat Safety Tips

The best line of defense against these illnesses is prevention. The following tips will help you stay safe when the mercury rises:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Should you need some respite from the heat, take in a movie or visit a nearby shopping center or mall. We also have several county facilities that serve as cooling centers — libraries, community centers and the Fairfax County Government Center — where you can get in out of the heat. Please check the operating hours to make sure the facility is open before arriving.
  • Stay on the lowest level out of the sun if air conditioning is unavailable.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Avoid doing strenuous work outside during the warmest part of the day.

When necessary, NWS issues heat-related alerts to help you prepare for extreme weather conditions. To learn more about these alerts and how they impact you visit www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/ww.shtml. And to sign up for severe weather alerts to you email inbox and by text on your smartphone, sign up for Fairfax Alerts.

Air Quality

Today is also a code orange air quality day, meaning air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Children and adults with respiratory and heart sensitivity should limit outdoor activity. In addition, everyone should take these steps to help our air quality:

  • Refuel after dusk, use fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Avoid driving, use transit and telework.
  • Avoid using aerosol products.

Never Leave a Child in a Vehicle Unattended

Posted at 11:55 a.m.

Heatstroke is the number two killer of children behind car crashes. That’s why we’ve joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding you — especially parents and caregivers — about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises. According to safercar.gov, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle. In 2014 there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles. What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.

Please remember these three things:

  1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car.
  3. Always lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Don't Forget to Look Before You Lock

If you are a bystander and see a child unattended in a vehicle:

  • Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If the child appears ok, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the public address system.
  • If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while someone waits at the car.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.

Never leave children unattended in vehiclesChildren’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include:

  • Red, hot and moist or dry skin.
  • No sweating.
  • A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion or acting strangely.

If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose — never an ice bath. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

According to safercar.gov, 59 percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car; 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own. Remember to “look before you lock.”Look before you lock

Heat Advisory in Effect Friday, June 12, Until 8 p.m.

Posted at 10:45 a.m.

A heat advisory is in effect from noon until 8 p.m. today, Friday, June 12. The National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when the heat index value is expected to reach 105 to 109 degrees within the next 12 to 24 hours.

As we start feeling the heat of summer — which doesn’t even officially begin until June 21 — remember these tips to stay cool and safe:

  • Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
  • Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment affords some protection. Several Fairfax County buildings serve as cooling centers where you can get a respite from the heat.
  • Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

Don't Leave Kids or Pets in Cars

One of the most important things to remember … Never leave anyone, especially children and pets, in a closed, parked vehicle.

According to the National Weather Service, studies show that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate its internal temperature.

Get more on the weather forecast and sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts.

Heat Advisory in Effect at Noon Today

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Heat Advisory July 2, 2014The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory from noon today to 7 p.m. this evening. Heat index values will be around 103-105 degrees with temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.

A heat advisory means that a period of high temperatures is expected. The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. We recommend scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments — and drink plenty of water.

Heat Illness

There is a risk of heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period. Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those engaged in heavy work tasks or wearing bulky protective clothing and equipment. Workers not yet acclimated to working in hot weather, particularly new workers, may be at greater risk of heat illness.

Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and, if not treated, can result in death. Acting quickly can save lives! Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency — call 9-1-1.

drink plenty of water to prevent heat illnessHow Can Heat Illness be Prevented?

Remember three simple words: water, rest, shade.

Employers should provide workers with water, rest and shade and educate them on how drinking water frequently, taking breaks and limiting time in the heat help prevent heat illness. Workers should also be trained to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and employers should include prevention steps in worksite training and plans.

The Bottom Line

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside.

  • If possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take in a movie, stroll through a shopping center or visit one of the Fairfax County Cooling Centers.
  • Check on elderly neighbors.
  • Do not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles!

 

County Cooling Centers Offer Respite from the Heat

Posted at 10 a.m.

Extreme Heat Safety

Photo courtesy of CDC.

This week — especially today — is hot and humid outside. Temperatures will be in the upper 90s today and it only “cools” down to the upper 80s later this week, definitely weather fitting for the first day of summer this Saturday.

If you work outdoors, especially anyone doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment, you should take steps to prevent heat illness:

  • Drink water often.
  • Take breaks.
  • Limit time in the heat.

And please remember — never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle!

Fairfax County Cooling Centers

With these high 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:

Please check the operating hours to ensure the facility is open before arriving. Remember — resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.

Staying Cool

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.

Find more information from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health as well as the county’s emergency Web page.

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