Football Heat Dangers

Monday was the first day of after school practice in Whitehouse. That means hotter practices, and better chances for heat injuries. Athletic Trainer, Henry Hawkins has been getting ready for this time of year all summer.

"Today may be one of our hotter days. I remember, because I'm kind of sweating a bit, and I'm not even running."

Those who are running are drenched in sweat. But how hot is it, really? At 3:00, the official temperature was 91 degrees. But the National Weather Service always takes that temperature in the shade. The players aren't in the shade, they're in the sun. So, we placed a thermometer in the middle of the practice field to see what they actually go through.

At the start of practice, it's already in the middle 90's. Hawkins says it can be a couple of degrees hotter underneath pads and helmets.

"You don't have as much surface area for the skin to evaporate and cool the body. So, we try to wear as light and thin of clothing as possible."

Just thirty minutes in the sun, and it's now over 100. Coaches let the players take water breaks every 10 to 15 minutes, and keep and eye out for signs of heat exhaustion. But, doctors say problems can sneak up on any player.

Dr. James McKinley specializes in sports injuries, including dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. "The kids don't want to admit that they feel bad. They don't want to come out of practice if they do. The symptoms can be very gradual, just nausea, not feeling well."

As the temperature nears 105, the athletes haven't just lost water. They're also low on electrolytes and carbohydrates. So, around an hour into the workout, the entire team takes a Gatorade break. Then it's back to work. One more hour in the heat of the day.

Doctors recommend you weigh yourself before and after strenuous exercise in the heat. For every pound of fluid you lose, they say you should drink a pound and a half, 24 ounces of water before your next workout.