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How to stay cool and safe during this first heat wave in the Tri-State

Kids swimming at the public pool at the Evanston Recreation Center in 2022.
Becca Costello
Kids swimming at the public pool at the Evanston Recreation Center in 2022.

Temperatures in the 90s will make for a hot — and potentially dangerous — week for Tri-State residents.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory from Monday to Friday for Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. High humidity and excessive heat increase the threat of heat illnesses.

“One of the biggest dangers of this heat wave is the fact that our bodies aren't acclimated for it,” said Shel Winkley, weather specialist for the nonprofit Climate Central. “You basically went from comfortable conditions to, now, what is considered extreme heat for the Midwest.”

Though the heat advisory is set to expire Friday, high temperatures are forecasted to remain in the 90s through this weekend.

Tips to stay safe

Assistant Director of Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Ryan McEwan recommends people take steps to avoid the heat and recognize signs of heat-related illness.

“Number one, I would say to stay hydrated, make sure you drink plenty of fluid,” McEwan said. “Two, just look out for each other, checking in on family members, older adults and neighbors that you have, making sure everyone's keeping an eye out for each other. Three, keep an eye on yourself, look for those signs of heat cramps and heat exhaustion, and do everything possible to avoid heading into that heat stroke territory.”

Indications of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, sweating, dizziness, headache, fatigue and nausea.

“When that happens, it's important for people to get to a cool place, preferably someplace that's air-conditioned,” McEwan said. “Drink plenty of water, but not too cold water. You want to take slow sips when you're doing that and, if necessary, hop into a cool shower or jump into a bath.”

Heat stroke signs include headache, confusion, dry skin and the stopping of sweating, rapid pulse or vomiting. When those symptoms are observed, people should call 911 and move the person experiencing a heat stroke to a cool place.

RELATED: Do you know the signs of heat exhaustion? Preparation urged with 90 degree plus days approaching

Risk of heat-related illnesses can be decreased by limiting time spent outdoors.

“If you're going to be exposed to any sort of heated area, wear loose, lightweight, light- colored clothing,” McEwan said.

During this heat wave, both daytime and overnight temperatures are significantly warmer than usual. Winkley says that continual heat is dangerous, especially for people without air conditioning in their houses.

“One night of warm temperatures is uncomfortable, but you probably make it through it,” Winkley said. “But we have several days like this heat wave we're experiencing; we have this compounding heat.”

Being in air conditioning, whether at home or a cooling center, can help lower body temperature and recuperate its wellbeing for the next day of heat.

Where can people go to cool off?

Tri-State cooling centers are opening to provide safe spaces out of the heat during the day.

Hamilton County:

  • All Cincinnati Recreation Commission locations are open as cooling centers throughout the week. Anyone is able to use a CRC cooling center, regardless of CRC membership status. For a complete list of locations and hours, visit the CRC website. On Wednesday, only the Bush Center, Over the Rhine Center and Price Hill Center will be open as cooling centers from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Cincinnati Public Libraries are also free, open to the public and air-conditioned during normal hours. For a complete list of locations and hours, visit the Cincinnati Public Library website. All library locations will be closed Wednesday in observance of Juneteenth.
  • YMCA locations at Blue Ash, Campbell, Clermont, Clippard, Gamble, Highland, Powel Crosley, ME Lyons, RC Durr are open as cooling centers this week, Monday through Friday.
  • Several Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati locations are open as cooling centers.
    • Cincinnati Ohio Center Hill - 6381 Center Hill Ave.
    • Cincinnati Ohio Citadel Corps - 120 E. Central Parkway
    • Cincinnati Ohio West Side Corps - 3503 Warsaw Ave.
    • Echelon Cincinnati - 114 E. Central Parkway
    • Salvation Army locations in Northern Kentucky and Batavia
  • Village of St. Bernard Municipal Building, 120 Washington Ave.

Butler County:

  • MidPointe Library, West Chester - 9363 Centre Pointe Drive
  • MidPointe Library, Liberty - 7100 Foundry Row, Suite S-234
  • MidPointe Library, Middletown - 125 S. Broad St.
  • MidPointe Library, Monroe - 1 Tennessee Ave.
  • MidPointe Library, Trenton - 200 Edgewood Drive
  • Hamilton Lane Library - 300 N. Third St.
  • Fairfield Lane Library - 1485 Corydale Drive
  • Oxford Lane Library - 441 S. Locust St.
  • Lane Community Technology Center - 228 Court St.

For a complete list of locations and hours, visit West Chester’s website.

Who is most vulnerable?

This heat wave is dangerous for everyone. Because this is the first extreme heat event of the summer, most Tri-State residents are not yet acclimated to the hotter temperatures, Winkley said.

People most at risk include the elderly, young children, people who are pregnant, people who work or spend extended periods of time outside, people taking certain medications and people with chronic illnesses.

People participating in upcoming outdoor events like Juneteenth and Pride celebrations should also take heat precautions.

Additionally, not all Tri-State neighborhoods will feel the heat in the same ways. The 2020 Heat Watch Cincinnati study documented the urban heat island effect that made predominately low-income communities of color — who were historically red-lined — several degrees warmer.

RELATED: Contemporary Arts Center, city of Springdale undertake energy projects to cut emissions, spending

How is this heat wave connected to climate change?

Climate change has made extreme heat, like this week’s, more likely to occur in Cincinnati, Winkley said.

Fifty years ago, Cincinnati saw eight or nine fewer days of extreme heat annually than it does today.

Human activities that burn fossil fuels, like driving, have been releasing gasses that trap heat from the sun on Earth.

“It basically adds this blanket over the Earth — think about like a wool blanket,” Winkley said. “So, what we're finding with climate change is our afternoons are getting hotter and our summers are getting hotter. But one of the biggest signals that we see is those overnight temperatures. It's not just Cincinnati, its across the United States and it's worldwide.”

Local documents, like the Green Cincinnati Plan, have laid out actions for the city to take to address effects of climate change.

Isabel joined WVXU in 2024 to cover the environment.