Community safety during extreme heat events

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Communities should take action to protect residents during extreme heat events.

Dark pavement and buildings are very effective at absorbing heat, making cities typically hotter than the surrounding areas. This is known as urban heat island. 

The urban heat island has a strong effect on nigh time temperatures. Even after the sun goes down temperatures can remain high, limiting the ability of people to cool down and recover before the heat of the next day. Without air conditioning, upper floors of brick buildings are particularly susceptible to the dangers of extreme heat because they retain heat after the sun goes down.

Set up community cooling and hydration centers

Community cooling and hydration centers can be a lifeline for residents. Set up community cooling and hydration centers where residents can get out of the heat, particularly in areas with low-income, elderly, and young populations

Open air-conditioned buildings to the public

Public buildings with air conditioning should be opened to neighbors who need a place to go and recover during extreme heat. Public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, or other community facilities provide safety to those without air conditioning, reducing their likelihood of experiencing illnesses associated with extreme heat. 

Protect energy and water systems

Extreme heat strains energy and water systems. If possible, expand the capacity of these systems and keep maintenance staff on call.

Open hotlines to report heat illnesses

Establish hotlines and alert systems to give residents in the community an easy and direct way to report heat illnesses to local public health officials.

Implement congestion reduction measures

Protect vulnerable infrastructure and reduce the heat caused by traffic by implementing load restrictions and congestion reduction efforts. 

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