Schools taking safety precautions ahead of high school football kickoff

From Region 8 News at Six
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 5:13 PM CDT
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GREENE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - As the high school football season is ready to kick off many teams are trying to find ways to beat the heat.

With temperatures around kickoff Friday set to be around triple digits schools are creative, Greene County Tech Athletic Director Aaron Thorton said they always have to deal with the heat, but this is different.

“It’s always hot that is one of those things especially week 0 now because we play a week earlier than we did in Arkansas,” Thorton said.

A way schools are trying to beat the heat is by moving start times back. There have been 16 games either moved to 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. to try and wait until the sun goes down.

Greene County Tech was one of those schools and Thorton said it will just be safer for all their athletes.

“We just felt like it was safer for our kids and Paragould kids to push that time back, so we don’t have the sun issue,” Thorton said.

67 high school athletes have died from exertional heat illness since 1982, according to ESPN.

Local doctors like Dr. Enrique Gomez, with St. Bernards Medical Center, said you can see a dangerous trend here.

“We have been having more kids being admitted because of hydration issues because they are doing sports and they are working and if you don’t hydrate well, you can cause breakage with the muscles and that could cause issues with the kidneys,” Gomez said.

Gomez said there is no exact number when it comes to how much you need to drink and that it all differs for each person.

“How much to hydrate depends on how intense your workout is and your size,” Gomez said. “You know if it is a long training session or workout you have to take a lot of liquid.”

Schools like GCT have gotten donations from parents and are finding ways to track how hydrated their athletes are before and after practice.

“We have gotten donations for Pedialyte, we have Pedialyte packets for the kids, we are weighing them in and out to make sure they are not losing water weight around practice,” Thorton said.