Take care battling intense summer heat
As football teams begin pre-season preparations in earnest this week and band camps begin, the hot and humid weather is always an issue in the South. This year, it seems to be worse than recent years with record-breaking temperatures all across the nation.
The South, while it has been spared the excruciating heat of the American Southwest, is still suffering from dangerous heat levels for students practicing outdoors.
Some recommendations from the Alabama High School Athletic Association at last week’s summer conference will help students and coaches, as well as anyone else workign or playing outdoors for long periods of time, navigate the coming weeks.
According to the AHSAA medical advisor, heat-related deaths in sports are declining because of better knowledge, training and precautions. Heat-related deaths are the third most common cause of death in high school athletes, but there were only two nationwide in 2022.
They usually occur in the first four days of practice. Death from exertional heat stroke is completely preventable.
The main suggestions from the AHSAA include lowering body temperature as rapidly as possible by placing the athlete in a tub of ice water and removing them when their temperature is below 102 degrees. Iced towels over the body, replaced every two or three minutes, will work if no tub is available. Once the body is cooled, they can then be transported to the hospital.
Alabama is the first state to enact a statewide policy of “cool first, transport second.” If the correct procedures are followed, there will be no fatalities.
Some of the preventative measures recommended are weighing athletes before and after practice, replacing fluid lost during activity, monitoring urine color for signs of dehydration, having ice bags and adequate cold fluids available, including rest periods adjusted for temperature and changing shirts during rest periods.
In football, the first day of Fall practice officially begins on August 7. For the first three days of practice, players can wear helmets but no pads – only shirts and shorts. The earliest date pads can be worn is August 11.