VAN WADE — Heat safety a big concern as football practice nears

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, July 20, 2022

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Has it been hot enough for everyone in Southeast Texas?

I remember the days of being an athlete, but that was in the 1980s.

Is it just me or does the heat and humidity seem so much higher now in 2022 then, let’s say, 1985?

Orange Newsmedia Sports Editor Van Wade

I have been venturing to all of our area schools, observing our young athletes go through the grind, battling the summer heat. Heat indexes around the area have reached as high as 112 degrees, mostly in the evening. All of our coaches are smart, working the kids out in the mornings, where the heat index at times has been a modest 106 to 108.

It has been a ridiculously warm June and July compared to most. Didn’t we use to call August and September “The Dog Days of Summer?” Let’s hope August brings us a little cool down. I’m probably hallucinating with that statement, I’ve been in the heat too much already.

Trainers around our area, along with all of the coaching staffs, have definitely made sure our kiddos stay hydrated and do all of the proper stretching and take precautions that go along with the heat.

Players in all sports have been working extremely hard. However, football season is near and that’s the sport everyone has to be more cautious with.

According to a recent CDC report, students who play football are 10 times more at risk of suffering a heat-related illness than all other high school sports combined.

Heat-related illnesses can be anything from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to something as severe as heat stroke.

Football players are insulated by an extra 10-15 pounds from their helmet and pads, so it should come as no surprise they are the most at risk when it comes to playing sports in the heat and humidity.

One of the most important prevention measures to take is thorough heat acclimation. Players will often head out to the practice field and try to do too much, too quickly, without building enough heat tolerance.

Doing your own “mini” practices or workouts in the heat prior to the full-blown practices, and slowly increasing the intensity and duration of the workouts, is quite beneficial. It prepares you for the the intensity and strain on the body of preseason practices.

It often takes anywhere from one to two weeks for an athlete to gain sufficient heat exposure and becomes even more important for those who are out of shape or are considered overweight for their age and height.

Drinking plenty of water before, during and after practices is also a key in preventing heat-related illness or stress. Once the heat index reaches 100 or more, water breaks should be taken every 30 minutes during practice. Drinking a couple extra glasses of water the few nights leading up to Friday Night Lights can make a big difference!

Restoring those electrolytes lost during games or practice greatly help an athlete recover and replenish themselves before the following day’s practice.

For those who require immediate cooling, having cold-packs or wet towels on hand is essential.

One great thing about all of our local Orange County schools, each one has amazing athletic trainers who are always on the spot. They always have keen eyes on kids when they are struggling.

Van Wade is the Orange Leader sports editor. He can be reached at