June 2021 - 21
chance for trainers and coaches to review any athletes
with pre-existing conditions that might predispose them
to heat illness.
" Pre-participation physicals to understand any issue
ahead of time are really important, " Schwartz says.
Action plans should be reviewed yearly and updated to
the most recent best practices.
Obey the Wet Bulb
While having a good weather app is useful, a Wet Bulb
Thermometer is a must-have for any athletic program and
is now required in some states.
A wet-bulb measures air temperature, humidity, wind,
and radiant heat and combines them to create a Wet Bulb
Globe Temperature (WBGT). This is not the same as a
heat index, and they are not interchangeable.
It's important to take wet bulb readings at each playing
surface, including indoor venues. Your tennis courts might
be significantly hotter than your field hockey field. While
turf fields are often hotter than grass fields, that's not
always the case. Continue to check throughout the day.
" It's easy to become complacent, " Berry says. " You
think: 'The wet bulb is green and we don't have to worry
about anything today.' There are other factors to take
into account. "
Once you have your WBGT, there's an easy colorcoded
chart to determine which activities are allowed
or disallowed. Any reading above 92 means all athletic
events should be canceled. During practice, continue to
monitor every 15-20 minutes and adjust as necessary.
" Coaches have to be willing to modify, " Berry says.
Be Prepared on Site
Whether it's a practice or a game, ensuring that
proper equipment is accessible quickly can make all
It starts with hydration systems, from water bottles
to water cows. Practices should include at least three
water breaks per hour, lasting at least three minutes
each. Athletes should be allowed to get water when they
request it. The frequency and duration of water breaks
should increase as the WGBT rises.
A shady area should be provided close by for studentathletes
to use to cool down. If there isn't a naturally
shady area, pop-up tents work.
" You don't have to spend a lot of money on this, "
It is recommended that a cold tub be available near any
activity in the heat. These can be Rubbermaid tubs or
even a suspended tarp filled with ice water.
" They're relatively inexpensive, " Berry says. " You can
have a few of them and put them at your field location. In
the event somebody is having a heat issue, you can cool
them rapidly and quickly. That's the key. "
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