Our heat guidelines are designed to protect students from incurring heat-related illnesses or problems. This is a guide for personnel to use and refer to when making decisions or modifying and/or suspending outdoor activities.
The best defense against heat-related conditions is Prevention. On an annual basis, the staff will train on precautions to take to ensure student safety during high heat. Staff focus will be on "constant surveillance" of students during high heat to ensure student health. Should symptoms arise, they will be addressed immediately by using Quick Care guidelines and Basic First Aid as needed.
The following guidelines are to be used as appropriate to ensure student safety during high heat. Implementation may vary depending on the activity.
Quick Care Guidelines for Staff
- Reduce the intensity and duration of physical activity initially and gradually increase exposure to allow students to grow accustomed to heat levels.
- Fully hydrate students prior to strenuous physical activity.
- Constantly provide cold water and schedule frequent rest periods where students are encouraged to drink 2-3 glasses of water.
- Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or late in the day.
- Be aware of student’s chronic health issues and medications of students
- Heighten surveillance of students with special needs.
- Be aware of students with certain conditions that are at a greater risk to heat stress. Included in these (but not limited to) are: cystic fibrosis, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, obesity, diabetes, chronic heart failure, caloric malnutrition, anorexia nervosa and sweating insufficiency syndrome.
- Check to see if student's medication has specific precautions regarding heat, sunlight, etc.
- Use a "buddy system" where students are educated regarding symptoms and monitor each other.
- Implement extra precautions when playing on concrete or asphalt.
- Provide water on long, non-air-conditioned bus trips or encourage students to bring their own.
- Decrease the intensity of activities that last 30 minutes or more whenever relative humidity and air temperature (Heat Index) are above critical levels (HI of 90 or above). The higher the humidity, the more dangerous high air temperature is because of decreased evaporation of body sweat. Note that full sun exposure can increase the Heat Index by as much as 15 degrees F.
- Check the Heat Index at http://www.weatherforyou.com/weather/Georgia/Athens.html or an approved measuring device.
- Inform your teacher/instructor of any medications recently taken.
- Wear lightweight, loose, cool, reflective clothing.
- Wear hats or sun visors when participating in direct sun.
- Wear sun glasses or protective eyewear.
- Avoid caffeine and high-sugar, carbonated drinks.
- Bring water to drink throughout activity.
- Inform instructor if recently ill.
- Avoid eating heavy, protein-rich foods prior to exercise.
Basic First Aid Guidelines
- Remove from the heat to a cool shaded area.
- Provide cold water/electrolyte drinks to replenish body fluids.
- Remove excessive clothing (shoulder pads, shoes, long socks, etc.)
- Place ice packs or ice towels on the following areas to cool the student’s body core temperature (neck, arm pits, sides, abdomen, groin)
- In case of heat exhaustion, submerge the student in an ice bath until EMS arrives.
- Call 911 anytime during heightened heat exhaustion.
There are four main heat-related reactions to excess heat:
- Heat syncope - fainting or near fainting due to overheating; pale, cool, moist skin
- Heat cramps - muscle cramps occurring during intense, prolonged activity in the heat
- Heat exhaustion - body temperature of 103-105; paleness, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, cramps
- Heat stroke - body temperature of 106-108; disorientation, seizures, hot and dry skin, coma.
- Guidelines for Student Athletic Activities (to include recess):
At 3 p.m. each day in August and continuing into the warmer days in September, a designated person will determine the heat index. The heat index combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine an apparent temperature - how hot it actually feels. Check the Heat Index at http://www.weatherforyou.com/weather/Georgia/Athens.html or an approved measuring device. Administrators, coaches and the athletic trainer will then make a decision using the Student Athlete Guidelines below on whether to make modifications for all athletic practices to be held that afternoon. Coaches will then make the necessary modifications and notify the administrators and students.
- If the heat index is 80-89, students should be watched closely for any heat distress and frequent water breaks should be taken.
- If the heat index is 90-94, 10 minute rest breaks should be taken every hour and water breaks every 10 minutes. Students should be under careful supervision. The athletic activity must be kept to 100 minutes or less.
- If the heat index is 95-99, the athletic activity should be modified. For example, football practices in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets only. Frequent water every 10 minutes and rest breaks must be held. Students should be able to get water at any time and should be under extreme supervision from teachers, coaches and trainers. The athletic activity must be kept to 90 minutes or less.
- If the heat index is 100-104, further modifications must be made, such as football practice in shorts, T-shirts and helmets only. Water breaks should be taken every 10 minutes and students should be allowed to get water at any time. Frequent rest breaks must be taken and students should be monitored at all times for heat distress. The athletic activity must be kept to 90 minutes or less.
- If the heat index is 105 or greater, then the athletic activity will be suspended, postponed until later in the evening, or held indoors at the administrator’s/coach’s discretion, with suggestions made by the athletic trainer. Athletic activities could also be rescheduled to when the heat index has reached an acceptable level. When an event is “BLACK FLAGGED” (which means the heat index is at the 105 level or higher that day), no outdoor practice may begin until the athletic director or athletic trainer communicates to the head coach that the conditions are acceptable, 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.
It is the responsibility of all administrators and coaches to provide ample supplies of water and appropriate care to our students. It is recommended that all guidelines be followed in such a way that the safety and best interests of our students be made our number one priority. It is also recommended that coaches constantly teach our students about proper hydration throughout each day. It is important that student-athletes be allowed to carry water with them during the day and hydrate themselves, especially on days of practice and games, while the weather has the possibility of reaching critical levels in relation to the heat and humidity.