07/20/17 – Heat and Humidity Reminders

July 20, 2017 Athletic Department Blog Updates

With temperatures rising across the state, now is a good time to remind all of our school administrators and coaches of the requirements of the Heat Index program. No game, or plan for a game, is worth short-cutting this required procedure that is now nearly fifteen years old. Nothing about the program has changed, but with the turnover in coaches (and administrators) perhaps a few heat index reminders are helpful:

  • Heat index requirements and restrictions apply (and have always applied) to outdoor and indoor sports. In many cases during the summer, indoor practice areas (including gymnasiums) are set to be electronically controlled in terms of temperature and coaches must monitor conditions to ensure compliance.
  • While the gold standard for heat index measurement is the wet bulb globe, the KHSAA has adopted the use of the digital sling psychrometer as the measurement instrument for heat index as the next best available and most cost effective alternative. This is an accurate measurement of the heat index at the competition or practice site.
  • The measurements are to be taken ONLY using the digital sling psychrometer. There is no website, phone app or other computer programs that can substitute and allow a school to remain in compliance. Only on site readings are valid.
  • The readings are to be taken at the exact location of practice. There were reports in the early years of people taking readings under the shade of a stadium, an exterior hallway, under a nearby tree, etc. This does NOT give accurate information. The first and only accurate place to take the reading is the specific competition/practice area where the activity will occur. This is especially important with the proliferation and expansion of artificial playing surfaces where the heat is increased by the under layer below the carpet.
  • Specific to football, a reading of above 99 degrees heat index requires the removal of the helmet and all other protective gear in football. Equipment may not be worn until the heat index gets back to 99 or below. A reading of 95 to 99 requires protective equipment to be removed while not involved in the contact or drill.
  • In all sports, everything stops if the heat index is above 104. In sports where protective gear is required for specific players or positions, the stoppage occurs at above 99. This would include football, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse.
  • In all sports and sport-activities, if the heat index is 94 or above, even if the activity can continue, mandatory water and rest breaks (out of the direct sun) are required at a minimum of 30-minute intervals.

Regardless of temperature, emergency action plans are required to be in place and practiced. It would be advisable as preseason workouts get to full speed to be sure all of the equipment has been checked, etc.

  • The required procedures include the placement of a cooling tub containing ice and water in an area accessible in the event of an emergency.
  • Without proper planning and the availability of the tub, supplies, and water, the time frame between symptoms and treatment are unnecessarily prolonged.
  • This tub SHALL be large enough to place an athlete into the cold, ice and water filled tub and cool the athlete ensuring that both the groin and armpits are in the cooling ice and water.
  • The athlete must be monitored at all times when in the cooling tub, with individuals designated to control the head and neck at all times in case the athlete becomes unconscious.
  • The athlete plan should ensure that cooling of an athlete that is showing signs and symptoms of exertional heat illness is begun immediately including the availability of cold, iced towels, etc.
  • The fundamental principle is to cool first, transport second. A good example of those principles can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1-g3dVVvaM&feature=youtu.be

A reminder to all those reviewing this post is that adherence to the heat index procedures are required of the middle schools in the Commonwealth per state regulations (702 KAR 7:065).

This post is not intended to be complete and all inclusive. Much of the details and background can be found on the KHSAA website at http://khsaa.org/special-programs/sports-safetysports-medicine/ including the required forms that are necessary to monitor compliance.