Community Environment Health

The heat index in Jefferson County reached 105 degrees by noon Monday — and it’s only getting hotter.

More than 50 million Americans face scorching temperatures as a heatwave spreads over most of the country this week. Louisville could see heat indices as high as 115 degrees, putting many residents at risk of heat illnesses.

Every year, more than 600 people die from extreme heat. Dizziness, muscle cramps and vomiting are telltale signs it’s time to cool down, according to Zach Harris, medical director of emergency services at Norton Hospital.

“If you’re so hot that you start to not feel good, that’s the right time to go inside or find some shade or some way to cool down,” Harris said.

Older adults, young children and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk, but even healthy adults can experience heat-related illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


Harris said people should find air conditioning or take a dip to cool off. In and around Louisville, pools and libraries are accessible places to escape high temperatures.

“Your body primarily cools itself down by a combination of sweat or wetness and wind — what we call evaporative cooling — and that’s the most effective way to cool someone down,” Harris said.

Kentucky has experienced a 1.41 degree rise in average temperatures over the last 30 years, according to Associated Press data. As climate change increases average temperatures, Kentucky will face more frequent and severe heat waves.

Some organizations are offering free “cooling centers”— air-conditioned, indoor locations where residents can get relief from the heat. The CDC reports that individuals who spend time in cool areas like these are less likely to suffer from heatwave mortality.

Louisville announced eight Neighborhood Place cooling centers. To find the nearest location, call Metro311 or (502) 574-5000. You can also visit the city’s website.

The Coalition for the Homeless oversees “Operation White Flag,” which helps houseless individuals find shelter when the heat index or temperatures exceed 95 degrees. White flags are flown outside locations offering shelter and representatives regularly visit encampments to inform residents of available resources.

Louisville’s transit authority will waive fares for individuals seeking transportation to Operation White Flag shelters.

Here’s a list of Louisville Metro cooling centers, according to Metro United Way and the Town of Clarksville: 

Downtown Louisville

  • Louisville Public Library (Main branch) – 301 York St.
  • Louisville Public Library (Western branch) 604 South Tenth St.
  • Louisville Public Library (Highlands-Shelby Park branch) – 1250 Bardstown Road, Suite 4
  • Louisville Public Library (Crescent Hill branch) – 2762 Frankfort Ave.
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Fourth division) – 1340 South Fourth St.
  • Healing Place (for adult men only) 1020 West Market St.

West Louisville

  • Louisville Public Library (Shawnee branch) – 3912 West Broadway
  • Louisville Public Library (Portland branch) – 3305 Northwestern Parkway
  • Louisville Public Library (Shively branch) – 3920 Dixie Highway
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (First division) – 416 North 29th St.
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Second division) – 3419 Bohne Ave.
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Third division) – 7219 Dixie Highway
  • Salvation Army of Louisville (Main office) – 911 South Brook St.
  • Healing Place (for adult women and their children) – 1503 South 15th St.
  • Neighborhood Place (Cane Run) – 3410 Lees Lane

South Louisville

  • Louisville Public Library (Iroquois branch) – 601 West Woodlawn Ave.
  • Louisville Public Library (Southwest regional branch) – 9725 Dixie Highway
  • Louisville Public Library (South Central regional branch) – 7300 Jefferson Blvd.
  • Louisville Public Library (Fairdale branch) – 10620 Manslick Road
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Sixth division) – 5600 Shepherdsville Road
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Seventh division) – 7201 Outer Loop
  • Neighborhood Place (First location) – 1503 Rangeland Road

East Louisville

  • Louisville Public Library (Newburg branch) – 4800 Exeter Ave.
  • Louisville Public Library (St. Matthews branch) – 3940 Grandview Ave.
  • Louisville Public Library (Bon Air branch) – 2816 Del Ri Place
  • Louisville Public Library (Jeffersontown branch) – 10635 Watterson Trail
  • Louisville Metro Police Department (Eighth division) – 2927 Goose Creek Road

Clarksville

  • Jeffersonville Township Public Library (Clarksville branch) – 1312 Eastern Blvd.

Hours of operation and contact information for each site can be found here on the Metro United Way website. Public pools and spraygrounds can be found on the Louisville city website.

This story has been updated to include information about additional resources.