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Protecting yourself during extreme heat

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Protecting yourself from excessive heat
Cities can also do their part.

TUCSON (KVOA) - Last year was one of the hottest years on record in Tucson, and the hottest day was 113 degrees.

But this year, we have already hit 115.

During the month of June, we also broke the record for the most consecutive days in a row with highs at or above 110 degrees, and summer just got started.

"Tucson is pretty commonly ranked as the third fastest-warming city in the United States, and we've already seen temperatures rise over the last century due to climate change," said Ladd Keith, an assistant professor in planning at the University of Arizona. "I think the climate change projections for the southwest are pretty dire if you don't get global greenhouse gas emissions under control."

Keith is an expert on urban planning and climate change.

He focuses on extreme heat.

"Heat is an increasing climate risk due to both the urban heat island effect, where the way that we built our cities, and the waste events generated from vehicles of air conditioning, increases the temperatures in cities relative to the natural surrounding areas, and then also due to climate change," said Keith.

He says that with the annual temperatures increasing, we could see more intense, more frequent and longer heatwaves.

So, how should you prepare?

"For people in Arizona, I would say, making sure that if you're a homeowner you have a working and operational air conditioner, so getting that checked annually," said Keith.

He also recommends weatherizing your home by making sure that windows and doors aren't leaking air, allowing for air conditioners to operate more efficiently and, making sure your home is well insulated.

"Landlords in Arizona by state law, are required to keep temperatures at a reasonable level and in the city of Tucson, they actually have to keep the air conditioning units operating at 82 degrees Fahrenheit," said Keith.

Cities can also do their part.

"They need to look at the mitigation strategies," said Keith. "And those are things like increasing vegetation, using cool paving surfaces, and reducing the amount of concrete and asphalt."

Keith also said that in an extreme heat event, cities need to be prepared to take care of those most vulnerable by making sure cooling centers are available.

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Destiny Quinn

Destiny Quinn is the new morning anchor for Tucson Today. She comes to Tucson from Jonesboro, Arkansas.

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