Band members, athletes beat summer heat (video)
Aug. 13, 2013 at 3:13 a.m.
Band members marching around parking lots and football players charging across practice fields in the summer heat are sure signs that school starts soon.
Ways to prevent heat-related illness are paramount as students return to practices outdoors.
Students who opted for air-conditioned afternoons in front of their Xboxes this summer might have tougher times resuming their athletic and band practices than those who spent time outdoors.
"They are not accustomed to the heat and might be more at risk," said Taylor Starkey, a physician with the Texas Health Center. "Suddenly, they're marching in the August heat, and that could be a problem."
A continual source of water must be available, said John McNeill, physician with Twin Fountains Walk-In Clinic.
Starkey recommended people drink sports drinks for hydration or at least alternate them with water. It is possible to develop a dangerous condition called hyponatremia (low sodium) from drinking too much water.
"The great thing these days is that coaches and band directors are trained and educated about the risks," Starkey said.
The Victoria East High School Band practices from 9 a.m. to noon five days per week. Practices began Aug. 1.
The instructors help the students acclimate to the heat gradually with light workouts that become more intense with time, said David Edge, director of bands for East High. The group breaks every 15 to 30 minutes for water depending on the heat.
Edge hosts a meeting in May that is especially important for parents of students marching for the first time. Topics include appropriate clothing, nutrition and hydration.
"Hydration starts for the student the night before," Edge said.
Students are allowed to wear hats and sunglasses with their light colored T-shirts and athletic shorts during practice.
"We monitor the heat index and adjust outside activities accordingly," Edge said.
Victoria West High School's football practices, which are regulated by the University Interscholastic League, began Monday. Head Football Coach Leonard McAngus adheres to specific practice times as well as clothing and gear requirements.
"Safety is the No. 1 concern," McAngus said. "We have excellent professional and student trainers who keep a close eye on the boys."
Symptoms that signal heat related illness include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, weakness and muscle cramps.
"The most important thing is to listen to your body," McNeill said.
People who have had previous heat-related illness or underlying medical conditions such as asthma are more likely candidates for heat exhaustion, he said.
Patients experiencing heat-related symptoms are often fine after an air-conditioned automobile ride to the office, Starkey said.
"Get them into the air conditioning and give them fluids," he said. "Cool them down with a wet rag."
Vomiting is a medical emergency because of dehydration, he said. An IV might be necessary.
The worst outcome, which is uncommon, is heat stroke, in which the body loses its ability to cool itself.
"This is a true medical emergency," he said.
Neither Edge nor McAngus have dealt with serious heat-related illnesses in their programs, but they are prepared should it happen.