Beat the Heat
Welcome to Beat the Heat
Beat the Heat
Beat the Heat is a new initiative from Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and supported by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs that is designed to help communities deal with the impacts of extreme summer heat. In the Spring of 2021, the Town of Clarksville was awarded a grant for Beat the Heat, giving the Town the opportunity to both study the impacts of extreme heat in Clarksville and develop local strategies to alleviate the impacts of heat on the community. Beat the Heat is a 2-year program and will run from the summer of 2021 to the summer or 2023.
Extreme Heat in Clarksville
Extreme heat in Clarksville refers to days with temperatures at or above 90° Fahrenheit and nights with temperatures at or above 68° Fahrenheit. On hot days and nights, people are at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Some parts of the community are more vulnerable to extreme heat than others; this includes seniors, young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions, low-income communities, communities of color, people without access to air conditioning, and outdoor workers.
To date, extreme heat is the deadliest weather hazard in the US, responsible for more deaths each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. The CDC reports that an average of 65,000 Americans are admitted into emergency rooms in the U.S. due to heat-related illness every year.
In addition to preparing residents for the high summer temperatures that are common in Clarksville, Beat the Heat will also work to reduce the impacts of urban heat islands in town and prepare the community for future rising temperatures.
Urban Heat Islands
On sunny days, dark building materials like concrete, asphalt, and dark rooftops retain more heat from light, causing those surfaces and surrounding areas to be hotter. As a result, areas with more buildings and parking lots often experience higher temperatures due to the urban heat island effect. However, strategies like increasing green space and using lighter-colored building materials can help cool down these heat islands.
On Monday, August 32rd, a group of 15 volunteers participated in Clarksville’s Heat Watch Campaign by recording air temperatures across town to create a heat map of the community. The results of this map will help identify the places and people in Clarksville that are most affected by summer heat. This map is being created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2021 Urban Heat Island Mapping Cohort and in CAPA Strategies. When Clarksville’s heat map is completed, it will be shared on this webpage.
In recent years, Clarksville has experienced an average of 42 extreme heat events per year. By the 2050s, this number is projected to be between 91 and 103 extreme heat events per year. To ensure residents stay safe during current and future extreme heat events, Beat the Heat is exploring several strategies, such as developing a Heat Wave Response Protocol, sharing public health and safety information, and establishing cooling centers across town on hot days.
From summer 2021 to summer 2023, the Beat the Heat initiative will develop and implement a Heat Relief Strategy that will help residents stay safe and cool on hot days and nights. Currently in Phase 2 of 5, Beat the Heat is performing a community needs assessment to better understand how the Clarksville community is affected by extreme heat. Soon, Beat the Heat will be sharing a public survey with residents and will be hosting focus groups with people in the community to hear directly from residents about how their experiences with summer heat. Updates on the survey and focus groups will be posted on this webpage.