Players and coaches across the Mid-south take precautions while practicing in the heat

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s hot in Kansas and sports practice is officially here. Monday marks the first day for football practice in the state.

“We have ice here near the field because we have an immersion tank if it’s needed,” said Jennifer Hudson, East High athletic trainer.

The ice is a precaution if someone is dangerously overheated.

Hours before practice Hudson was on the field getting temperature and humidity readings. With temperatures on the East High turf over 100 and the humidity at least 20 percent, the players were operating under extreme caution.

“Twenty minutes practice, five minute water break,” said Hudson.

Those breaks are mandatory according to state high school regulations when they reach something considered zone three. Zone three puts players into what is considered in an extreme caution zone in the heat.

If the temperatures get above that with 50 percent humidity, they move into zone four and that pushes practice back to six in the evening to beat some of the heat.

“So heat illness is one of the most preventable injuries that we have,” says Hudson. “And part of that is talking to the kids, monitoring the weather, ensuring that they are hydrating.”

At East High they have water available at three different spots, but they also talk about hydration way ahead of practice.

“We talk to them. Talking about taking water breaks when you are walking through the hallways at school, when you pass a fountain stop and take a drink of water,” said Hudson. “The other thing that becomes important is that they eat properly. Eating a good breakfast and lunch helps them have enough fuel and really helps them deal with the heat also.”

State rules from the Kansas State High School Activities Association permits helmets with no pads for Monday and Tuesday football practices this week.

Friday will be the first day for full-contact practice with pads.

“So, we will continue to talk to them about staying hydrated and not getting in trouble,” said Hudson.

Players at East High will also weigh in at the beginning of practice and then check their weight again after practice. If a player loses more than one pound during practice, they are required to drink between 20 and 24 ounces of water.

“We hope to never have to use the ice immersion tank,” said Hudson. “But we have it here at practice.”

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