LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As high schools across the state push toward football season, practice is heating up. Teams like Seneca High School had to tackle record highs in the run up to their season.
With August temperatures staying high, Seneca High’s Athletic Trainer Ben Dillon is on the field and the sidelines to make sure every player stays safe.
The former collegiate football player uses a heat stress monitor to check the practice conditions.
“Usually when it’s super hot, I’ll check it every twenty, thirty minutes,” Dillon said. “If we’re nowhere near it or I feel like we’re getting near it, I’ll check it more often.”
On days when the heat index is under 95 degrees, the Kentucky High School Sports Association requires teams to have water available and allow water breaks. But, on days where it’s hotter, teams must stop outdoor practice.
“Not really seeing any of the injuries, cause we’re being very proactive with it,” Dillon said of their precautions. “We’re doing the cold water immersion tub in case the serious stuff is coming, but we also have cold towels, taking breaks every thirty minutes.”
During the summer, the team would practice in the mornings, before the peak heat of the day. But players were advised to still prepare for the heat.
“Bring water, a lot of water, ice water and yeah, we have water at every station. And when it gets hot, we go to the shade or go in sometimes,” said Jeremiah Townes, a quarterback for the team.
The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that July was the hottest month on record. But Townes said he adjusted.
“I got used to it. But the first time, it was hot. But we worked through it, sitting down in the shade for 10 minutes, came back, still worked,” Townes said.
Dillon has been working with Seneca High School athletics through UofL Health. He says the most common heat-related injuries are typically easy to recover from.
“Usually we sit them out, sort of take them through the heat-illness stuff of hydrating, getting in the shade,” he explained. “Letting them take little breaks, seeing if that helps them a little bit, usually with some Gatorade or ‘Gatorlytes’ or anything like that. And if they’re better, we throw them right back in.”
Dillon has some tips on how athletes can make sure they are ready to battle the heat.
“Sleep, hydration, nutrition is all super super big when it comes to heat injuries. Obviously, if you’re dehydrated, you’re going to be more prone. If you get less than six [hours of sleep], your body’s not going to function,” he said. “I tell the kids all the time that food and water are basically your gasoline and oil in a car. So if you got no gas, have no oil, your car is not going to run very far.”