School districts keep student-athletes safe in extreme heat

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) —A heat advisory will be in effect on Wednesday. The National Weather Service of Indianapolis is urging people to stay safe in the dangerous conditions. In a tweet, they suggest that people who work outdoors stay hydrated, ask people to check on older neighbors and those who don’t have air conditioning, emphasize people to never leave kids or pets unattended in the car and tell people to limit strenuous activities outdoors.

A lot of kids are still practicing fall sports in this extremely hot weather and school districts in Central Indiana are keeping a close eye on the weather conditions in an effort to keep student-athletes safe. The number one thing school districts are pushing students to do, is stay hydrated. Athletic trainers suggest people start drinking water in the morning before they feel thirsty and continue throughout the day, to make sure they don’t get sick from the heat.

“The biggest things are those exertion heat illnesses. So heat exhaustion, heatstroke, heat cramps are all very real and they can cause a lot of issues especially in athletics,” said Carl Palma, the head athletic trainer for Beech Grove High School. 

School districts said they plan ahead for the extreme heat. Both Beech Grove and Hamilton Southeastern Schools use the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature tool on hot days. It factors in heat index, wind and sunlight to determine if it is safe for student-athletes to practice outdoors. If the heat index reaches 100 to 104.9, they use extreme caution and ensure water breaks every 15 minutes with at least 5-10 minutes of rest, along with limiting the use of equipment. If it becomes any hotter, the district said students don’t practice outside.

Indianapolis Public Schools said all their coaches have taken heat illness training and stay cognizant of all athletes during practice and games.

The Carmel Clay school district said they have switched some practices to early morning hours to beat the heat. 

“Taking care of athletes and staff in the heat is a topic started in the preseason and covered throughout the year. Coaches have received hydration recommendations for student-athletes from the start of the season, along with social media reminders and addressed during team meetings. We have made adjustments like moving Girls’ Cross Country practices to the morning, lighter workouts and practices, etc,” said Jim Inskeep, CHS athletic director

Both Beech Grove and HSE said they also keep a 150-gallon ice tub in a shaded area near practice and games, to cool off athletes should there be an emergency in the heat. For all of the districts, safety is most important.

“Athlete safety is my job. It is my number one thing and if we can add a few precautions or change a few things to make sure we don’t have to deal with the tragedies that some other schools or families have had to deal with, those are things I am willing to do,” said Palma.