Athletes need to stay cautious in hot weather

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KSNW) — Athletes are already out practicing under the hot sun.

Even though they’re fit, it’s important for them to be careful when exerting a lot of energy in the heat.

Athletes at Valley Center’s Hornets Football Camp. (KSN Photo/Amanda Aguilar)

Valley Center High School’s football camp started Monday. High school players train from 6:30-9 a.m. Although it’s in the morning, when it’s cooler, the football coach still wants his players to be cautious during practice.

According to Coach Caleb Smith, he prepares his players for the heat by requiring them to go through health screenings — such as physicals and heart screenings.

However, he said the only way athletes can get used to the heat is to get out in the heat.

“Not just waiting until football camp,” Smith explained. “So gradually work themselves into the heat — get out, swim, do things during the summer in the middle of the afternoon, so when they get to football camp, they’re not used to the air conditioning all summer. That’s important.”

During practice, athletes are encouraged to stay hydrated.

“We tell our coaches never tell a kid ‘no’ to water,” said Smith. “If they say they’re thirsty give them a water break, especially the younger kids. We’re giving them water every 10 minutes.”

Smith also said athletes need to be drinking water when they’re not training.

Valley Center coaches go through heat tests to recognize signs of heat exhaustion, according to Smith.

According to the Kansas State High Activities Association, temperatures reaching 80 to 89 degrees could result in fatigue. At 90 to 103 degrees, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible.

Some signs of heat exhaustion include vomiting, cold skin and feeling weak.

“If they tell you they’re dizzy, if they’re eyes are kind of doing funny things…there’s signs that you can just visually see that they’re starting to get a little bit of dehydration,” said Smith.

If this happens, it’s important for the athlete to get out of the sun and into the shade — and most importantly, they need to drink water.

For more information about heat illness prevention strategies, visit the Kansas State High Activities Association website.