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DC Department of Health Offers Safe Heat Tips for the Weekend

Friday, July 23, 2010
As temperatures reach close to 100 degrees today and this weekend, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of staying healthy in the heat.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Media contact only:     Dena Iverson: (DOH)
July 23, 2010                                                                                                            (202) 340-7834

DC Department of Health Offers Safe Heat Tips for the Weekend

Washington, DC – As temperatures reach close to 100 degrees today and this weekend, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds residents of the importance of staying healthy in the heat. Below are tips on how residents can avoid heat stroke and stay cool during high temperatures.

“With temperatures soaring over 95 degrees this weekend, residents should take the necessary steps to avoid heat related illnesses such as heat stroke and exhaustion,” said Dr. Pierre Vigilance, Director of DOH. “Residents should also be very mindful of the importance of staying hydrated with lots of water, as well as avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest hours of the day.”

Groups at greatest risk for heat-related illness:

  • Infants
  • Children up to four years of age
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications.

Groups at greatest risk should be monitored carefully, and their environments should be regulated.

The CDC recommends that adults at greatest risk be closely monitored and visited at least twice a day to view for possible signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants, young children, and pets should also be closely monitored and should never be left in the car during extreme temperatures.  The CDC reminds people that “even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.” 

Tips to Avoid Leaving Children and Pets in Parked Cars

  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
  • When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

DOH Tips for Staying Healthy and Cool in the Heat:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay out of the sun
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar
  • Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, light colored and breathable, such as cotton
  • Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella
  • Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches and wear sunscreen
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully
  • Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area

Heat stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.”

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Throbbing headache
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion/dizziness
  • Slurred speech

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing a heat related illness, please call 911. Department of Human Services (DHS) will be working with the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) to open up cooling centers and provide water to District residents once an emergency heat alert is declared; this action is taken to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.  Those in need of transportation to a DHS Cooling Center can call 800-535-7252 for assistance.

For more information on heat-related illness prevention, visit