Local News

Area Coaches Prepare to Keep Athletes Safe from Heat

Posted August 5, 1996

— Football is generally considered a fall and winter sport, but practice begins during the hottest part of the year. That means coaches have to find ways to prevent players from succumbing to heatstroke.

Training in the heat and humidity can quickly sap the strength of the most able players and in some cases, it can even kill. WRAL-TV5's Robert Carver talked to area coaches to find out how they cope with the effects of the weather.

At Hunt High School in Wilson, the football team practices during evening hours when temperatures are lower and the sun is not a factor. Even so, the temperaturesareAugust temperatures and Hunt's players and coaches know they need to take other precautions as well.

Tarboro High player Mike Destafana says he likes practicing while wearing all the gear, but he knows when he's pushed himself far enough.

Heatstroke begins with heat exhaustion, the symptoms of which include lightheadedness, headache and shortness of breath. Sometimes, though, athletes will ignore these warning signs out of a misplaced sense of bravado.

Brett says that ignorance could carry a big price tag.

WRAL's Health Team physician,Dr. Alan Mask, says there are precautions players can take if they must practice in the heat. They include taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of fluids such as water or sports drinks. Eating foods high in potassium, such as bananas or raisins, can also help by increasing stamina.

Mask says the most important thing is to pay attention to warning signals

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