Heat and Athletes

 

Athletes are at great risk for heat related illnesses.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) offers these tips for coaches and athletes.

Coaches should monitor the heat index and take proper precautions to protect their players. Below are sample guidelines for athletic programs.

Refer to the National Weather Service Heat Index for guidance.

  1. If the heat index is 80-89: Athletes should be watched closely for any heat distress, and frequent water breaks should be taken.

  2. If the heat index is 90- 94: Optional water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Ice down towels for cooling. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for any heat distress.

  3. If the heat index is 95-99: Re-check temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index. Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Along with iced down towels, other means for cooling athletes should be available: water sprinklers, fans, shade etc. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action. Contact sports and activities with helmets and other possible equipment should be removed while not involved in contact. Athletic practices should be modified such that football players should practice in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets only.

  4. If the heat index is 100-104: Re-check temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index. Mandatory water breaks every 20 minutes for 10 minutes in duration. Along with ice down towels, other means for cooling athletes should be available: water sprinklers, fans, shade etc. Alter uniform by removing items if possible or other modifications should be made, such as football practice in shorts, t-shirts and helmets only. Helmets and other possible equipment removed if not involved in contact or necessary for safety. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action. Reduce time of outside activity as well as indoor activity if air conditioning is unavailable. If necessary for safety, suspend activity.

  5. If the heat index is 105 or greater: Practice will be suspended, postponed until later in the evening, or held indoors at the coach’s discretion. Stop all indoor activity unless air conditioning is available. Practice could also be rescheduled or postponed, when the heat index has reached an acceptable level. When a practice or event has been “FLAGGED” no outdoor practice may begin until the Director of Athletics and/or Head Athletic Trainer communicates to the school that the conditions are acceptable, meaning the heat index is below 105. Practice may be postponed to a later time the same day if the heat index lowers. All appropriate guidelines should be followed based on the reading at the time.

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