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Area schools take proper precautions against heat

August 8, 2011

There is no question this has been a hot summer.

With football practice is in full swing for area teams, both players and coaches are doing their best to try and beat the heat.

So far this preseason, three players have died from heat related illnesses in the southeast, two in Georgia and one in South Carolina, where temperatures and heat index have risen to triple figures.

Local high schools that are preparing for the upcoming season have dealt with these issues in a different ways.
Oak Hill will have practice in the mornings where the temperatures are a little cooler, while Hebron prefers to practice in the evening. West Point has had various practice times during the week, but the players have seem to become acclimated with the heat after spending all summer working out.

Players get breaks as often as possible, roughly every 15 minutes or so, re-hydrating with water and Gatorade. Fans are also seen under the tents to keep constant flow of cool air blowing. But even that sometimes isn’t enough.

“You just have to use common sense,” Oak Hill Academy athletic director Stan Hughey said. “You have to realize that different kids, with different sizes are going to adjust to the heat a little differently.”

The MAIS, the governing body for both Hebron and Oak Hill, mandates a clinic over the summer to cover procedures and precautions for heat related illnesses.

“We encourage our kids to drink lots of water,” Hughey said.

Not only do players get a lot of breaks during practices, but during football games, there is an automatic time-out early in the season to give players more rest.

The football players aren’t the only ones having to fight the high temperatures. The Lady Raiders softball team lost four players Saturday during one game because of the heat. It was the third game of the day which started about 2:30 in the afternoon. The girls had maybe a half an hour rest prior to cool down.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association provides school districts with information regarding heat related illnesses which include how much water to take in before practice, what to do to restore normal body temperature and what are the signs an athlete is suffering from a heat illness.

Experts say that athletes are at the most risk in the first 10 days of activities, when their bodies haven’t quite adjusted to the temperatures.

New guidelines, released by the American Academy of 1
Pediatrics, say taking the right precautions is the key to preventing heat related illness including; educating children about preparing for the heat to improve safety and reduce the risk for heat illness, allowing children to gradually adapt to physical activity in the heat, offering time for and encouraging sufficient fluid intake before, during and after exercise and modifying activity as needed given the heat and limitations of individual athletes.

But even taking precautions it’s sometimes hard to miss the obvious signs which could be fatal.

“Unfortunately you hear of these things every year,” Hughey said. “It’s scary that’s for sure.”

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