How to Stay Cool in Hot Weather
You can take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths during hot weather:
When temperatures are warmer, Loudoun and the region can expect to experience Code Orange and Code Red air quality days (days that surpass the national standard level for safe or healthy air quality). Knowing the expected air quality forecast can help members of the public who are sensitive to higher pollution levels make plans to limit their outdoor activity level.
Loudoun County Cooling Centers
During periods of excessive heat, when Loudoun County is under a heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service, Loudoun County facilities that are normally open to the public may serve as “cooling centers” during their regular operating hours, where people seeking relief from the heat will have access to air conditioning, restrooms, seating and water. These centers include facilities such as Loudoun County community centers and recreation centers; and the branches of the Loudoun County Public Library. In addition, the Loudoun County Animal Shelter is designated as a pet-friendly cooling center for residents who are seeking relief from the heat for their companion animals.
Food & Drug Safety Information
High temperatures and power outages can combine to affect the safe storage of refrigerated and frozen foods as well as prescription medication. If you take any prescription drug, you need to be aware that storage at high temperatures can quickly degrade the potency and stability of many medications. If your medications have been exposed to excessive heat, you should contact your pharmacist to see what he or she recommends. Perishable food that are not stored properly refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed such as:
Follow the golden rule of food safety: "When in Doubt, Throw it Out," for any foods which you are not sure have stayed at a safe temperature or which do not look or smell as they should.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. Refrigerators will keep foods cold for 2-4 hours if it is unopened. Full freezers will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed. These times may vary depending on age of the unit, condition of the seals, temperature setting and amount of food.
- Digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometer and appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at a safe temperature.
- Before eating perishable refrigerated foods (milk, cheeses, eggs, meats, fish, or poultry) be sure to check their temperature. Foods that are 41º F or below can be eaten and are considered safe. Foods that are above 41ºF for more than two hours must be discarded. Do Not Eat. Don’t trust your sense of smell. Food may be unsafe even if it doesn’t smell bad.
- Raw poultry, fish, meats and eggs should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 ºF.
- Thawed food can usually be eaten if it is still 41º F or re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals or is below 41º F. You have to evaluate each food item separately. Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.
You may sign up for weather alerts through Alert Loudoun, including heat advisories, excessive heat watches and excessive heat warnings.
- Extreme Heat and Your Health: Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Heat Safety: Tips from the National Weather Service
- Virginia Department of Health: Extreme Heat and Heat-Related Illnesses
- Protect Yourself Against Extreme Heat: Helpful information from Ready. Gov
- Pets, Hot Weather and Cars: Information from the Loudoun County Department of Animal Services