Heat maps show some more vulnerable to heat than others

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 21:46:20-04

MILWAUKEE -- Certain areas of Milwaukee are more vulnerable to heat than others according to a unique map developed by the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

In collaboration with other agencies, the heat vulnerability map shows where people are more likely to feel effects of heat.

The health department typically uses the map during extreme heat events. While Thursday's temperatures topped out in the 90s, the health department didn't consider it a heat event.

But the 90s couldn't stop kids from hitting the court Thursday at a sports camp at Washington Park.

"We keep them hydrated, we have water jugs out for them as well we have water fountains in the park," said Otto McDuffie, one of the camp's coaches. "And we will spend a lot of time in the pool today."

Washington Park is in an area of the city considered to be more susceptible to heat based on the health department's map.

The map is based on about 20 different variables like how much concrete or asphalt you have, if you're in an area with a lot of older buildings that don't have air conditioning, and the demographics in your area, such as age.

"We're taking this map along with task force members and looking at positions of cooling centers, locations of swimming pools and extending hours for swimming pools," said Paul Biedrzycki with the health department.

He says only a handful of cities in the country have a map like this.

"Instead of just having a plan, a written narrative, this helps visualize where the impact would be," he said "And then we can use it or these various agencies can use it for planning and response purposes."

He says the city only activates its extreme heat plan when the heat index reaches 95 or higher for multiple days, with little cooling at night.

"That seems to be the biggest predictor of heat morbidity, severe illness or deaths in our community," he said.

Because it's supposed to cool down after Thursday, Biedrzycki says the city likely won't activate the extreme heat plan.