The current heat wave is slated to continue for the next several days with temperatures reaching 95 degrees or better. The heat index, the measure of how hot it feels with humidity factored in, will make temperatures feel as high as 107 degrees at times.
The best way to beat the heat is to stay in the air-conditioned indoors, if possible. "If you don't have air conditioning, going to the mall, a public library, or other public air-conditioned space is a great way to cool down," said Mary Laurel Castle, the emergency preparedness and response coordinator for the Prince William Health District. "Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help you feel cooler once you're back in the heat."
A visit to a pool can also help people keep cool. The county has four outdoor community pools that include:
Veterans Park Pool and Waterslide at 14300 Featherstone Road in Woodbridge, 703-491-2183
Hammill Mill Park Pool at 1721 Carter Lane in Woodbridge, 703-491-1074
Birchdale Community Pool at 14730 Birchdale Ave. in Dale City, 703-670-5178
Graham Park Pool at 3511 Graham Park Road in Dumfries, 703-221-7550
The Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center, at 14300 Minnieville Road in Woodbridge, has an indoor pool, as does the Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center at 13025 Chinn Park Drive in Woodbridge.
The county also has two waterparks. Splash Down Waterpark is at 7500 Ben Lomond Park Drive in Manassas. Call 703-792-8200 for information. For information about programs at Waterworks Waterpark, at 5301 Dale Blvd. in Dale City, call 703-680-7137.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, it's important to drink plenty of water and avoid drinks with a high sugar content, caffeine and alcohol, which can all cause dehydration. Try to wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors help reflect some the sun's energy. A hat can help reflect the sun's heat, as well.
According to the health department's website, limiting excessive physical activity during the hottest part of the day can help people avoid dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. People who must work outdoors should drink two to four glasses of water per hour and take frequent breaks in the shade or some other cool place.
"Now is a great time to check on your neighbors," Castle said. "While anyone can suffer heat-related illnesses, people aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications."
People should never leave children, disabled adults or pets in cars. Dogs are much more susceptible to heatstroke than humans due to their fur coats. So, it is recommended to limit their outdoor time and stay in the grass and shade as much as possible.
More information about how to beat the heat is available on the Center for Disease Control website and the Virginia Department of Health website.