Athletic trainers using wet bulb globe temperature to help keep student-athletes safe in heat

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Most of us know about the actual air temperature and heat index, but do you know what wet bulb globe temperature is?

It is something that more and more athletic trainers are using to determine how safe it is for student-athletes to practice outside in the summer heat.

Wet bulb globe temperature measures the heat stress on a person who is in direct sunlight.

Unlike the heat index which is determined by air temperature and humidity, wet bulb globe temperature takes into account the wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover, along with the temperature and humidity.

It is something that athletic trainer with St. Bernards Healthcare and the Jonesboro Public Schools Leah Hill says is a better measure than the heat index.

“So the heat index only used the heat and humidity and don’t factor in the air,” Hill said. “So, using this can determine what we need to do about practice.”

In 2019, the Arkansas Activities Association approved the use of a wet bulb globe thermometer as a recommended tool to measure the acceptable heat and humidity levels for practices.

Wet bulb globe temperature recommendations from the Arkansas Activities Association
Wet bulb globe temperature recommendations from the Arkansas Activities Association(Arkansas Activities Association)

Hill uses the device before and during practices to determine if any modification should be made to the practice based on the wet bulb globe temperature at the time.

“Anything over 92, practice is canceled,” Hill said. “Anything under 82, it’s fine.

The AAA released modified guidelines from the American College of Sports and Medicine when it comes to scheduling practices at appropriate wet bulb globe temperature levels, the ratio of workout time to rest and hydration times, and when activities should be canceled.

Within those guidelines, there are different guidelines for football players and athletes in other sports.

One of the bigger modifications for football players happens when wet bulb globe temperatures are between 90 and 92.

“Between 92 and 90, we are modifying practice,” Hill said. “Only practice for an hour and if it is football, no helmets and pads, just helmet.”

Hill said practices have not had to be modified for JPS athletes, Greene County Tech’s athletic director said on Twitter Monday that a golf tournament in Searcy was canceled due to the wet bulb globe temperature and a tournament on Tuesday was modified from an 18-hole tournament to 9-holes.

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