Extreme Heat

Who is most at risk?

The effects of extreme heat are not felt equally across the population. Groups that are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat include:

  • People who work outside, lack access to air conditioning, or are experiencing homelessness
  • Low-income communities and communities of color
  • Infants, young children, pregnant women, and the elderly
  • People who are sick, overweight, or suffer from health conditions such as heart disease or mental illness

Facts about extreme heat

5 to 6degree increase in Indiana’s average annual temperatures by 2050.

38 to 51days at or exceeding 95 degrees per year projected for Southern Indiana by mid-century. Historically, the region has experienced 7 days per year at 95 degrees or more.

47 to 58nights exceeding 68 degrees per year projected for Indiana by mid-century. Historically, Indiana has experienced 20 nights per year above 68 degrees.

105°Fthe projected average hottest days of the year in Indiana by 2050, about 8 degrees higher than average for the past century.

400%increase in the number of days Hoosiers’ will need cooling projected by the 2080s compared to the previous century.

702average annual deaths due to extreme heat occurred in the US between 2004 and 2018.

How can communities prepare for extreme heat?

Local governments and community leaders can take action to reduce the risks posed by hot days and nights to residents.

  • Conduct a heat vulnerability assessment to identify local areas and populations that are most likely to be impaired by extreme heat.
  • Develop a heat management plan that includes strategies and procedures for responding to periods of extreme heat. Plans can include preventative measures, such as expanding the local tree canopy, as well as emergency measures, such as 24-hour cooling centers.
  • Raise awareness among local stakeholders, especially vulnerable populations, to alert residents to the risks posed by extreme heat, symptoms of heat-related illness, and actions to take on high-heat days. Communities can also knock on neighbors’ doors and implement warning systems to inform residents when an extreme heat event is going to occur.
  • Implement cooling infrastructure—infrastructure designed to provide shade and reflect sunlightto reduce ambient air temperatures and heat absorption. Examples of cooling infrastructure include urban trees, green and white roofs, cool coatings on pavements and buildings, pervious pavement, and parking lot shading.

Did you know…

Temperatures on a hot day can vary widely between nearby urban and rural areas. Sparse vegetation, heat-absorbent asphalt and concrete, and poor air flow all contribute to the “heat island” effect that can make cities significantly hotter than other areas.

A city with a hot sun

Beat the Heat program

To help local governments in Indiana develop and implement heat relief strategies and response protocols, ERI and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs launched the “Beat the Heat” program in Spring 2021, selecting Clarksville and Richmond for the two-year pilot project.

The program provided each community with a full-time heat relief coordinator to lead efforts in gathering and analyzing local heat data, developing and implementing heat relief strategies, engaging community stakeholders, and educating residents on the risks posed by extreme heat.