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Heat and Hydration Information


Heat illness in athletes is a serious situation, and if not handled properly can have catastrophic consequences. Every school should have a written policy in place for handling athletic participation in extreme heat/humidity environmental conditions. This includes all athletes exposed to these environmental conditions - not just football! Incorporating the guidelines below into your policy will help ensure your athletes have an opportunity to train safely and effectively in situations of extreme heat/humidity. 

Use the chart above to assess the potential severity of heat stress. The chart should be used as a guideline only - individual reactions to the heat will vary among your athletes!

How to use the Heat Index Chart: 

1. Across the top of the chart, locate the ENVIRONMENTAL TEMPERATURE i.e., the air temperature. 

2. Down the left side of the chart, locate the RELATIVE HUMIDITY

3. Follow across and down to find the APPARENT TEMPERATURE (HEAT INDEX). The apparent temperature is the combined index of heat and humidity. It is an index of the body's sensation of heat caused by the temperature and humidity (the reverse of the "wind chill factor"). 



Proper HYDRATION and ACCLIMATIZATION practices stand out as the two primary prevention methods for decreasing the risk of heat illness. The following are some basic principles to follow: 



Appropriate hydration before, during and after exercise is important for maintaining peak athletic performance. Fluid losses of as little as 2% of body weight (less than 4 pounds in a 200-pound athlete) can impair performance by increasing fatigue. This is important because it's common for some athletes to lose between 5-8 pounds of sweat during a game or intense practice. So it's easy for athletes to become dehydrated if they don't drink enough to replace what is lost in sweat. 

• Recognize and respond to early warning signs of dehydration. 

DRINK EARLY and DRINK OFTEN during activity. Do not let athletes rely on thirst. Schedule frequent fluid breaks for re-hydrating. If athletes wait until they are thirsty it may be too late. • Athletes should be weighed before and after warm weather practices. They need to drink appropriate amounts of fluid for the amount of weight lost. Also, use a urine color chart (see back page) to determine hydration levels before activity. 

• Encourage GOOD hydration choices: water, sport drinks with low sodium and carbohydrates,

AVOID: soda, fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and caffeine. 

• Encourage drinking fluids, not pouring them. Dumping fluid over the head won't help restore body fluids or lower body temperature. 

• Provide easily accessible fluids. 





• The goal of the acclimatization period is to enhance the body's ability to exercise safely and effectively in

warm to hot conditions.

• The heat acclimatization period is defined as the initial 14 consecutive days of preseason practice.

• Slowly increase practice intensity and duration over this time. Schedule practice in the morning or evening

when the weather is coolest.

• Each individual practice should last no more than 3 hours. Any time spent warming-up, stretching,

conditioning, weight lifting, and performing cool down activities are all considered part of the 3 hours.

• A walk-through does not need to be included as part of the 3 hours, provided no conditioning or weight

lifting takes place. A walk-through should not last longer than 1 hour. A 3 hour recovery period should exist

between a practice and a walk-through.

• Double practices in a single day should not begin until the 6th day of the acclimatization period.

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