Beat the Heat

Lucy Mellen

(765)-983-7333

lmellen@richmondindiana.gov

Heat Relief Coordinator

What is “Beat the Heat”? 

“Beat the Heat” is a two-year program launched by Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The program's central goal is to assist communities in creating tangible, long-term, and sustainable projects that help residents in dealing with an increase in hot days and the negative health impacts that accompany hotter weather. The program is grant-funded and supported by both state and national organizations. The grant funding has allowed Richmond to hire a full-time Heat Relief Coordinator, whose role consists of collaborating with community members and local organizations to lead assessments that promote heat coping strategies and solutions. The Heat Relief Coordinator will create and implement a heat relief strategy with the help of the Heat Relief Task Force, an advisory group of individuals from a wide variety of sectors in the city. 

Why Now? 

The “Beat the Heat” program comes at a critical time, as annual temperatures across the state of Indiana are rising. With an increase in extreme heat events comes an increase in heat-related illnesses and even death. While heat can be assumed an everyday occurrence as the seasons change, extreme heat is actually the deadliest weather hazard in the United States, causing more harm than hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding each year. 
A subset of the “Beat the Heat” program is the Heat Watch Campaign, which is an initiative that maps temperature variants at points of interest around the city. The Heat Watch Campaign is conducted by CAPA Strategies, a Portland-based data analytics firm that strives to provide communities with localized information about urban heat distribution. This data is crucial in determining which populations are at a higher risk of heat stress. Temperatures can vary widely across different parts in the same city, with the potential to have rural areas in a city up to 20 degrees cooler than their urban counterparts. This is known as the “heat island” effect, which occurs when attributes like “sparse vegetation, heat-absorbent asphalt and concrete, and poor air flow” all contribute to the warming of cities and city centers, whereas increased vegetation and less heat absorbent surfaces keep rural areas cool. The “heat island” effect is especially relevant to the City of Richmond because it is heavily surrounded by farmland.

What is “Beat the Heat”? 

“Beat the Heat” is a two-year program launched by Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The program's central goal is to assist communities in creating tangible, long-term, and sustainable projects that help residents in dealing with an increase in hot days and the negative health impacts that accompany hotter weather. The program is grant-funded and supported by both state and national organizations. The grant funding has allowed Richmond to hire a full-time Heat Relief Coordinator, whose role consists of collaborating with community members and local organizations to lead assessments that promote heat coping strategies and solutions. The Heat Relief Coordinator will create and implement a heat relief strategy with the help of the Heat Relief Task Force, an advisory group of individuals from a wide variety of sectors in the city. 

Why Now? 

The “Beat the Heat” program comes at a critical time, as annual temperatures across the state of Indiana are rising. With an increase in extreme heat events comes an increase in heat-related illnesses and even death. While heat can be assumed an everyday occurrence as the seasons change, extreme heat is actually the deadliest weather hazard in the United States, causing more harm than hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding each year. 
A subset of the “Beat the Heat” program is the Heat Watch Campaign, which is an initiative that maps temperature variants at points of interest around the city. The Heat Watch Campaign is conducted by CAPA Strategies, a Portland-based data analytics firm that strives to provide communities with localized information about urban heat distribution. This data is crucial in determining which populations are at a higher risk of heat stress. Temperatures can vary widely across different parts in the same city, with the potential to have rural areas in a city up to 20 degrees cooler than their urban counterparts. This is known as the “heat island” effect, which occurs when attributes like “sparse vegetation, heat-absorbent asphalt and concrete, and poor air flow” all contribute to the warming of cities and city centers, whereas increased vegetation and less heat absorbent surfaces keep rural areas cool. The “heat island” effect is especially relevant to the City of Richmond because it is heavily surrounded by farmland.

What will the program accomplish? 

Over the next two years, the Beat the Heat program will conduct a multitude of projects which include the collection of data and community opinions, the creation of a heat management strategy, and the distribution of educational materials. 

Temperature data collection will occur primarily through the Heat Watch Campaign run in conjunction with CAPA Strategies and NOAA. This citizen-science campaign will include a single day event where volunteers collect temperature data around the City of Richmond at critical points of interest which represent the most important or interesting locations in the city with regard to heat such as parks, schools, community centers, bus stops, cooling centers, etc. This data will then be sent to CAPA Strategies, who will create a city heat island map. This heat map will be greatly influential in identifying locations around the city of higher concern for heat stress and be used to inform and target future programming. 

In order to gain an understanding of how community members manage and respond to heat events, we will be collecting community input data through focus groups, a heat vulnerability comment survey, and community heat management observations. This information, along with information gained from the heat island map and other determinations, will be used to create a heat management strategy for the City of Richmond. This Strategy will provide ways to help residents deal with high heat events and make suggestions for long-term heat management solutions. It will involve outreach to vulnerable populations, training sessions for local health professionals and first responders, the exploration of ways to suspend utility shutoffs, a list of cooling centers, and suggestions for urban landscape alterations. 

Education materials will be made available to vulnerable populations, community organizations, and the general public with information on how to stay cool, symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and other heat management strategies. 

As coping with heat stress and finding ways to mitigate it is a continuous process, a continuity plan will be drafted before the Heat Relief Coordinator's position ends in 2023. This plan will serve as a way for the City of Richmond to continue the projects and programs put in place during the two year Beat the Heat program.


Hot-Spots Around Town

Pictured below are four different locations around the City of Richmond. These images were taken on August 23rd, 2021 at 9 am and 2 pm using FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) cameras. The FLIR cameras help show the temperature variance of various locations at two different times of the day. We chose to photograph these locations with FLIR cameras because they help to show the effects that heat has on the built environment (man-made structures and infrastructure features that play a role in human activity). Unshaded areas and darker-colored built environment features absorb heat from the sun more easily, thus causing them to hold onto heat and create areas that are hotter than those that are shaded or lightly colored. This effect impacts resident’s ability to stay cool whilst outside and can exacerbate the negative health impacts that accompany hotter weather. Small alterations to the built environment, such as lightly colored paint, trees to provide shade, and non-continuous paved areas can be great resources to cool public spaces. 

*Temperatures listed on the images are in Celsius



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Locations

2380 Liberty Ave.

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