Sports teams practice safety first in extreme heat, humidity

Practicing in the extreme heat and humidity puts players at risk for heat illness / Matt Mackie (WGXA)

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- The summertime heat paired with humidity can be dangerous, especially for athletes.

At area schools and colleges, procedures are in place to prevent student-athletes from overexerting themselves in the sun.

Practicing or playing in those conditions can lead to heat-related illnesses.

At Georgia College, coaches and trainers monitor the heat index closely.

When there is more moisture in the air, it takes away the body's ability to cool itself down.

The sports teams at the college have different ways to combat the heat and ensure safety.

"One thing that we try to monitor are heat illnesses," said Assistant Athletic Trainer Sarah Fuller. "That's heat exhaustion, heat cramps. Worst cast scenario, heat stroke."

The teams take mandatory water breaks every 15 minutes when the heat index is between 101 and 104 degrees.

If it's any higher, they don't practice at all.

"Beyond 105, that's when we cut practice," Fuller said. "We don't have any activity outdoors. That's when we communicate with the coaching staff to have practice at a different time."

High heat index values mean that heat-related illnesses are possible.

"In a heat stroke situation, the athlete is passing out or is unconscious, dizzy," Fuller said. "The internal temperature of the athlete, core temperature, is over 104."

Cross Country Coach Steven Cary said avoiding those illnesses is more important than the race.

"If I see a kid who's looking a little pale or really red, just extreme signs of possible heat exhaustion, I'm gonna stop him," Cary said. "I'm gonna pull him out of that workout or run and call it a day. We'll live to fight another day."

To avoid that, they schedule practices around the hottest parts of the day.

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