Even before a season starts, football players have a bigger opponent to face: the heat. Being in the kind of extreme heat that players deal with can be dangerous and even life threatening.
A study by the University of Georgia shows that heat-related deaths have tripled nationally between 1994 and 2009. Georgia, a state with both high heat and high humidity, had the most deaths with six per year.
Former football coach Trecy Kent thinks heat safety is very important in the game of football. He believes that schools should have a concrete policy about how they handle it. He also feels that schools, beginning with middle school, should require mandatory checkups with a doctor, not a trainer or coach.
“I think heat stress safety is the second most important issue to worry about, first being head trauma,” said Kent.
Tracy Thomason has been watching her son play football since he was in second grade and she expresses similar concerns.
“I am always worried about the conditions they play and practice in,” said Thomason. “Every game I attended I was sick to my stomach. I just hope they find a safer way for the kids.”
Thomason has seen firsthand the dangers of the Georgia heat. A teammate on her son’s football team was a victim of heat exhaustion. She called the experience “absolutely terrifying.”
To avoid heat exhaustion or stroke, drink plenty of fluids, especially when exercising or performing any strenuous activities outside. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include a feeling of fatigue, headache, high pulse and shallow breathing.