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'Heat management strategy' is goal of Richmond's study of temperature trends

Richmond was one of two Indiana communities selected to join the national effort.

RICHMOND, Ind. — With the hot temperatures hitting Indiana this week, neighbors in one city found a unique way to beat the heat. 

Thermometers mounted on cars and bicycles were spotted all over Richmond on Monday.

Heat Relief Coordinator Lucy Mellen said they're being used for a new special campaign called Beat the Heat.

"It's essentially trying to gain a better understanding of how communities deal with heat and how they can better deal with heat and adapt to temperatures," said Mellen. 

The grant-funded Heat Watch campaign was launched by IU's Environmental Resilience Institute and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA)  

While the car was driven, air was being pushed through the white chamber at the top of the thermometer. It gathered data every second, information that will be used for heat maps. 

"We can better understand what communities are most vulnerable to heat and where we can better focus our efforts in the city," Mellen said. "It will show us what's hottest in the morning, what's hottest in the afternoon, what's hottest in the evening."

"We will be able to use that information to determine if trees are working best for this area are working best for this area. Does this area need more trees? Does this area have too much pavement in built environment? Do we need to add more into that, paint the sidewalks, paint the ground to make it less absorbent of heat?” she added.  

Gwen Halsted and Benjamin Guard are two of a dozen drivers who volunteered for the study.  

"It's only getting hotter. It's not the hottest it's ever been. It's the coldest it will be, ever," said Guard.

They collected data as they drove specific routes. They said they're proud to serve the community.

"Climate change is not going anywhere. It's going to get much worse. We need to do everything now, otherwise we won't have an effective society 5-10 years from now," said Guard. 

Richmond is one of two Indiana communities selected to join the national effort. Mellen said heat is one of the biggest health risks people face. The data could keep more people out of the ER. 

"There is so much strain on healthcare workers, we don't need to be adding heat, which is something we can adapt to or work around," said Mellen.

They will release the results of the study in six weeks and use that to make a heat management strategy.

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