Protection From Summer Heat

August 19, 2003 - Posted at: 4:39 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Soaring temperatures in the final phases of summer are forcing several who work, and play, in the heat to adjust their rhythms to stay safe in summer heat.

For the Arkansas State University football team, practices have been crafted to keep athletes safe, and to comply with the rules.

"The NCAA mandates that we give them a three hour period completely off," ASU coach Steve Roberts said. "No meetings, no physical activity."

While this summer has not been as bad as previous ones, protecting players from the heat is something the coaching staff takes seriously, practicing only at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

"We play our first few ball games at six or seven in the evening so that prepares us for that climate as well," Roberts added.

Athletic trainer Ron Carroll is at every practice monitoring each athletes physical condition. Specifically, he looking for signs of heat exhaustion in each of the players. Symptoms like cramping, dizziness, headaches and vomiting. Carroll also monitors their water intake.

"The body is 70 percent water, and so we weigh them before we go out to practice," Carroll said. "And we weigh them before they come in from practice. For every pound of water loss that they lose, we make them drink 20 ounces of fluids."

Offensive tackle Matt Roth transferred to ASU from California, where the weather conditions were a lot different. According to Roth, he had to make a big adjustment to the Arkansas summers.

"The shoes get a little soggier, the gloves get a little wetter," Roth said. "You're sweating more. I've never drank water like I drink out here."

"It's a very difficult sport to play and you have to push your body to the limit in order to be successful," said Roberts. "But our guys know there's a lot more to life than just playing football."

Heat dangers don't just apply to athletes. According to health officials, the elderly and chronically ill are more vulnerable to the effects of high temperatures because they perspire less. Health officials also advise that infants, children, and pets should never be left unattended in parked cars.