Hot Dog, It's Hot

Hot Dog, It's Hot

Town offers options for residents looking to stay cool.

For Elizabeth Featherstone and children Haley and Ian, steamy summers like this one turn the pool into a second home.

"We eat lots of watermelon. We go to movies, we go out for lunch, we have ice cream," said Featherstone. "But it’s mostly pool time. We live at the pool when it’s hot."

The Featherstones make the most of the summer weather, having water balloon fights, holding picnics, going to camp, running through sprinklers and playing at Meadowlane Park.

At the Vienna Dog Park on Old Courthouse Road, shade trees help keep area canines cool. A spigot in the far corner of the park sometimes turns into an impromptu sprinkler for the dogs to play in, which Jack Russell terrier Maxwell, owned by Susan Schultz of Vienna, particularly enjoys.

"If he could talk, he would say, ‘I beat the heat by playing in the water,’" said Schultz.

Sometimes, though, the best way to beat the heat is to escape it.

"We try to stay inside with the air conditioning," said Featherstone.

Going inside and escaping the heat is sometimes the best option for people who are more susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat stroke or other health problems caused by hot weather.

"The most common victims of heat stroke are the very old and the very young," said Ed Clark, life safety officer for the City of Fairfax Fire Department. "Children in unattended vehicles, even for a short amount of time, can suffer significant stress from the heat, and as bodies get older, they lose their ability to regulate temperature as well."

Luckily, said Officer Virginia Palmore of the Vienna Police Department, this year the town has had no reported cases of people leaving their children in the car.

"So far, so good. Maybe people are smartening up," said Palmore.

BESIDES STAYING in the house, Vienna residents looking to get out can find ways to stay inside and cool in the community. Many of the camps at the Vienna Community Center, for example, take place indoors.

"Our basketball camp hasn’t been outside since it started, which is good, because we keep the gym nice and cool," said Leon Evans, facility manager at the Vienna Community Center. "Occasionally, one of our regular summer camps may have a particular activity scheduled outside, but if the weather is bad they’re indoors."

The community center also offers programs for seniors. At the center, seniors can play card games or take exercise classes, said Evans, and all programs are located indoors.

Public libraries also provide a cool space for people who may not have air conditioning at home.

"We love for people to come out of the heat: seniors, school age, any age," said Lois Kirkpatrick, Fairfax County Public Libraries spokesperson. "Anybody is welcome to come and hang out. We have Internet access and quiet study rooms. Come into the library and pick out a great book. Now might be the time to read a book like 'Snow Falling on Cedars' or 'Into Thin Air,' things about cold climates."

When it isn’t possible to stay inside, it is important to take precautions, said Clark.

"Every summer we encounter people who overdo it, who get dehydrated or get heat stroke," he said. "It seems as though it would be common sense, but people who get out and work in garden for hours on end, or construction workers who work outside, allow themselves to become dehydrated."

"If you have to stay outside, dress lightly, wear a hat and drink plenty of water," said Cathy Salgado, director of the Vienna Department of Parks and Recreation.

People should also pay attention to the air quality to determine how safe it is to be outside, said Salgado. "There were a couple days last week where it was hot, but it was a safe air quality code. It’s not necessarily the heat that makes it unhealthy, it’s the air quality."