High heat indexes affecting summer athletic practices

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Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Eric Allmann

PADUCAH — Many sports and athletic support teams in our area follow rules that are intended to keep young athletes safe from extreme heat.

In Kentucky, coaches and sponsors are responsible for checking the heat index multiple times during practice. The higher it gets, the more precautions they have to take.

For example, if the heat index hits between 95 and 99 degrees, there has to be plenty of water on hand. Mandatory water breaks are also required every 30 minutes that last for at least ten minutes.
Also, football players are required to remove their helmets.

But keep in mind, sports players aren't the only ones exposed to the elements during summer practices.

"It's all outdoor activities including band, cheerleaders, et cetera. So, while the rules are KHSAA specific, we do want all of our students to stay safe with the heat," said McCracken County Public Schools Director of Pupil Personnel Russ Tilford.

Coaches are switching around practice schedules in order to avoid the heat and abide by the KHSAA rules.

McCracken County Public Schools cross country coach Jeffery Sturm said, "We practiced a couple nights the past couple weeks and it's been extremely hot. So, you can tell a difference between morning, night and afternoons."

Coach Sturm also said he keeps iced-down towels ready to help cool his kids off. He and his staff also hit the track along with their runners to keep a watch out for signs of heat exhaustion.

When heat indexes in Kentucky and Tennessee reach 104 degrees or higher, coaches have to scrap practice altogether. The Illinois High School Association has "no specific policy regarding practice during extreme heat conditions."

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