School system sets heat policy

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Decatur County Schools recently set their heat policy for August football practice and other sports practices throughout the year.

First, a thermometer that measures temperature reading will be utilized at each practice, to ensure that the written policy is being followed properly.

That policy includes each school having a written emergency plan for athletic practices and games. It must include responses to natural disasters, serious injuries and illnesses and terroristic events and must have the involvement of local law enforcement agencies, rescue agencies and medical doctors and hospitals.

Schools must also follow the statewide policy for conducting practices and voluntary conditioning workouts in all sports during times of extremely high heat and humidity. That policy will be signed by each head coach at the beginning of each season and distributed to all players and their parents or guardians.

The policy will follow modified guidelines of the American College of  Sports Medicine.

There are also specific guidelines that must be followed for breaks and rest periods. Rest periods should involve unlimited hydration intake of water, juice or electrolyte drinks. Rest breaks are a period of time without any activity.

Football helmets should be removed during rest time. The temperature reading will determine the mandatory number of breaks for each hour of practice.

The site used for the rest time break will be a cooling zone, which is currently under construction at the Bainbridge High School Bearcats’ football practice field. It is not in direct sunlight. Ice towels, fans and water misting equipment should be available at the cooling zone to aid the cooling process.

Another requirement is that immersion tubs be available at each practice for the benefit of any player showing early signs of heat illness when the temperature is over 86. The temperature of those tubs should be kept below 70 degrees.