FOX 5 rides along with Fairfax Co. firefighters as they battle emergencies, extreme heat

- For those who work outside, the heat wave we are seeing in the DMV is especially brutal.

Firefighters are the ones who respond when there is a heat-related emergency, but they also need to take precautions themselves.

"We always make sure we drink enough (water) because we sweat it out just standing here," said Fairfax County Fire and Rescue firefighter Blake Riggleman as he was out on a call. "If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of everyone else."

Crews call an additional alarm on fires on days like Friday, so there is a rehab unit available. Firefighters say even 20 minutes of heavy work with gear adding 60 to 80 pounds can be too much.

For emergency responders, sometimes the hottest days are the busiest. Lt. Glenn Mooneyhan said calls about heat sickness for construction workers or people doing yard work are common, but even people inside can need help.

"Sometimes people are doing everyday things indoors and the dehydration will just creep up on them," he said. "You have consecutive really hot days and the dehydration is cumulative."

Firefighters say staying hydrated with water is key.

While most people know that alcohol and heat don't mix, it is easy to forget that caffeinated drinks can also hurt you in hot weather by making you even more dehydrated.

Signs of heat sickness include headache, dizziness, nausea and shallow breathing.

Be especially careful at outdoor events this weekend. At a faith gathering on the National Mall last Saturday, about 500 people were treated for heat illness. More than 30 were hospitalized.

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