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How to keep safe during Louisville’s extreme summer heat

map of heat island effect in Louisville
Brian Stone
Georgia Tech
A map showing Louisville's heat island effect. Urban heat islands are areas where cities are substantially hotter than surrounding rural areas.

Louisville will be under a heat advisory Thursday and Friday with temperatures expected to be in the high 90s. Hot weather increases risks of heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

According to the National Weather Service. Thursday’s temperature is forecasted to reach 95 degrees and Friday could rise to 97 degrees.

Extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion, heat strokes or hyperthermia.

Dr. Martin Huecker, an emergency care specialist at UofL Health, encouraged people to prioritize staying cool in the next few days.

“Right now, we're seeing just a minimal amount of people coming in specifically with heat related illness,” Huecker said. “As soon as we go from 90 to like 100, humidity’s up, you can't sweat as well when it's humid outside. And that's where we're gonna expect a big bump in patients coming in.”

Signs of a heat stroke include high body temperature, headache, nausea and loss of consciousness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those experiencing heat stroke symptoms, or encountering others struggling with the heat, should call 911 and attempt to move to a cooler place.

Huecker said the symptoms of heat illnesses tend to be hard to identify, making people unaware that it is even happening.

“If you're feeling any of those symptoms…get to a cooler environment, like a house,” he said. “If you have shelter you can get into or just the shade, take off some layers of clothing and start to try to hydrate, drink some fluids.”

Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, pale and clammy skin, weak pulse, headache and more, according to the CDC. If symptoms don’t stop within an hour or include vomiting, seek medical attention.

Heatwaves cause more deaths than any other type of natural disasters, according to the National Weather Service.

The extreme heat is just one example of how climate change is affecting Kentucky. Heat waves will occur more often throughout the warmer months and are lasting longer than ever before.

Louisville is considered a heat island, meaning extra heat is absorbed by the concrete and asphalt that encompasses downtown. Downtown Louisville may be 10 degrees warmer than surrounding areas.

Here is some of the CDC’s advice for staying safe during extreme heat:

  • Drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty. 
  • Stay in air-conditioned spaces. 
  • Wear loose and lightweight clothing. 
  • Do not leave children in hot cars. 
  • Avoid using a stove or oven as they will make your home warmer. 
  • Check your local weather as often as possible. 

Pets – both indoors and outdoors – can be at risk during hot weather. Heat stroke is also a common problem for pets, especially those with shorter snouts, overweight pets, thick fur or pets with any upper respiratory problems.
Here is some advice from the American Red Cross to keep your furry friends safe from the heat:

  • For outdoor pets, ensure that they have access to plenty of water and a shaded area to avoid sitting in the sun.
  • Avoid walking your pets on concrete, the hot concrete can burn their paw pads which creates difficulty for pets to walk. Walking them on grass and in the shade can avoid any harm.
  • Do not leave your pets unattended in a car. 
  • Limit exercise on hot days.
  • Keep windows and doors closed so no pets wander outside. 

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