Heat safety measures in place as high school football practice begins | #schoolsaftey

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — High school football players returned to the field Monday for the first day of practice. Area schools have safety measures in place to protect the players from heat-related issues.

USD 259 Athletic Director Chris Asmussen explains football is at higher risk than other high school sports due to gear and weight.

“Throughout the years, there’s been a lot of deaths through heat illness. Especially football is the one that gets it because they are wearing basically an oven on top of their heads, on top of their shoulders. And so we really want to make sure that none of our kids fall to any injury or heat exhaustion,” said Asmussen.

USD 259 tracks the weight of their players each day to make sure they aren’t losing too much in a short time.

“We weigh them in before a practice, and we’ll way them out at the end of a practice, and then that determines each day if they have to practice or if they are able to practice or not,” said Asmussen.

Wichita West High School has cooling opportunities for athletes at practice.

“If someone overheats out here, we get them out here and put them in our tubs, we have cold water towels, we have a new hydration station that we are using,” said West football head coach Jeremy Moss.

Kansas State High Schools Activities Association also has regulations placed on all schools in the state. Assistant Executive Director Mark Lentz explains that during the first five days of training, only one practice is allowed for a maximum of three hours.

The only gear allowed for the first two days of practice is helmets. On days three and four, shoulder pads can be worn, and full pads are allowed starting on day five.

Wet bulb thermometers are used twice a day at each state school to measure the heat index. The temperature is listed in five zones:

  • Zone 1: 79.9 degrees and below – Low Risk
  • Zone 2: 80-84.6 degrees – Caution
  • Zone 3: 84.7-87.7 – Extreme Caution
  • Zone 4: 87.8-89.7 – High Risk
  • Zone 5: 89.8 and above – No Outdoor Workouts
Wet bulb thermometer (KSN Photo)

“If it gets into an extreme heat index, then they need to adjust the time that they practice, the length that they practice and those types of things,” said Lentz.

“It will restrict their use of helmets, shoulder pads. They have to take water breaks. Everybody has to take water breaks every 20 minutes until it gets to the fourth zone. It’s every 15 minutes,” explained Asmussen.

Trainers are on site to keep an eye on athletes showing signs of heat-related issues. Coaches are also CPR certified. Lentz says the goal is to have safety measures in place but never have to use them.

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