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Heat safety top of mind as Utah schools prepare for start of new athletic season | #schoolsaftey

UTAH COUNTY — For all the high school athletes antsy to get back on the field and back to practice, Tuesday is the day students can get ready for fall sports.

“Tomorrow the real hard work begins,” said Lisa Walker with the Nebo School District.

For athletic trainers like Walker, the current heat wave makes the state-wide start date a little stressful.

“We actually call it ‘heat week.’ We don’t technically start a lot of the stuff, we have ‘heat week.’ We have mandated heat acclimatization,” she said.

All schools are required to follow strict practice protocols set by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). Districts must test what they can and can’t do for the day using a monitoring device called a wet bulb globe.

“You get the temperature, you get the wind speed, you get the humidity and it comes out with an actual reading,” said Walker.

Heat safety is very important to Walker. She’s on the UHSAA’s sports medicine advisory committee as well as the Korey Stringer Institute’s health and science advisory board.

“For those who are unaware, Korey Stringer was an NFL football player who died from heatstroke,” she said.

She said practice in Utah is rarely canceled, it’s mainly modified. Modifications could include exercising at a different time when it’s cooler outside, or moving locations since a turf field can make temperatures much hotter.

Cooling tubs will be on standby, school staff is trained to spot heat-related symptoms, and at Nebo, football players will have to wait a few days until they’re acclimated to wear padding.

“Nobody should die from the heat. Purely preventable if we do the right thing,” said Walker.

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