ClickCease DC Heat Emergency: How to Stay Safe in a Heat Wave
07/20/20   |   By

Excessive Heat in DC Prompts Heat Emergency Procedures

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Due to the expected high heat index in the city, Mayor Bowser activated DC’s Heat Emergency Plan for the period of Saturday July 18th through Wednesday, July 22nd.

Cooling Centers

During the heat emergency, cooling centers around the city will open for residents to seek relief from the heat. Certain public recreation centers, public libraries, and public schools are open to the public as places to cool down. Unlike previous years, public pools and spray parks will not be open as cooling centers; these places will remain closed until further notice due to the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency.

All visitors are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside the cooling centers. Any visitors who do not have a mask or face covering will be provided with one. Cooling centers will guide all visitors to marked off seats to follow social distancing measures.

Use this interactive map to find the closest cooling center to your location. Transportation to cooling centers is available for those at higher risk of heat exhaustion or stroke. If you or someone you know needs transportation to a cooling center, call the DC hyperthermia hotline at 202-399-7093.

Public Testing Sites and Grocery Sites Closed

Public COVID-19 testings sites in downtown, Anacostia, and firehouse locations will be closed on Monday, and this may be extended through Wednesday. The Office of the Mayor encourages residents in need of a test to call their health care providers for more information. Also, the District’s grocery distribution sites will be closed, however free meal sites will be open for all in need. A list of meal site locations and hours can be found at

Extreme Heat Safety

Extreme heat coupled with high humidity can cause heat-related illness including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If not properly treated, heat-related illnesses can be life-threatening. Young children, the elderly, people who are overweight, and people who are sick are more likely to be severely affected by extreme heat. High humidity in DC reduces how well sweat evaporates from your skin, so your body can overheat quickly. Staying hydrated, cool, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activities is key to avoiding heat-related illness during this heat wave.

Regan Zambri Long
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Public Health
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