High school coaches must observe heat index - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

High school coaches must observe heat index

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August 2, 2007

Albany - - Georgia's heat and humidity can be dangerous for young athletes. High school football teams are now getting ready for the upcoming season. They hit the practice field for the first time this week. This year, they have to follow some new rules to keep them safe from the extreme summer heat.  

Jatavius Camel has played on Albany High's football team since his high school career began.

"It keeps me out of trouble, gives me something to do and be productive with my life."

Living in South Georgia, he's used to extreme heat and as a football player, he's now used to playing in it.

"Real hot!"

It can get so hot, that last year the Georgia High School Association mandated all schools cancel outdoor practice if the heat index reaches 105 degrees and it required mandatory water breaks every twenty minutes when the heat index reaches 90 degrees.

"A lot of water. You have to constantly drink it, even if you don't feel like drinking, you've got to drink water," Camel says.

"Were concerned about the health and safety of our student athletes and we want to make sure we take every precaution to be sure that they are safe when out in this extreme heat," says Dougherty County Schools Athletic Director Johnny Seabrooks. 

The school district ordered new heat monitors, two for each high school and one for each middle school. Local school leaders also took the requirements a step farther.

"When that policy came out, I went to our board chairman and asked them if we could pass a heat policy for Dougherty County School System for all extra curricular activities," Seabrooks says.

That includes outdoor practices for dance teams, ROTC members, and marching bands.

Camel understands the policy and is glad it's in place.

"A lot of players have been falling out all over the state of Georgia and I don't want that to happen," he says.

We asked Seabrooks if it would be difficult to enforce it when there are eager coaches out there who always want their teams to win big.

"Winning championships is great but the thing we don't want...it's a hard feel to knock on a parent door or make a phone call and say that a child succumb to a heat illness because of the fact that you were thinking about a state championship. Think about the safety of the child, think about safety of student athletes, those are the things that are important to us," he said.

Dougherty County Schools also have trainers who attend football practices. They work with the coaches to monitor the heat index and make sure students aren't practicing when it gets too hot.

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