If potentially dangerous weather is forecast, the following procedures should be implemented:
- A weather watcher should be identified, preferably the Licensed Athletic Trainer, if available.
- The weather watcher should monitor storm progress through digital radar via smart phone aps, internet, or television.
- Suspension of activity should be when storms penetrate a 10-mile threshold from the venue. If digital radar is not available, once thunder is heard, the storm is said to be within the 10-mile radius.
- It is the responsibility of the Athletic Trainer along with all coaches to observe the daily weather patterns and monitor any significant changes and potentially hazardous conditions.
- The Athletic Trainer, in cooperation with the Athletic Director, will notify coaches of outdoor sports as soon as practical if potential weather conditions may affect practice or competition. Initial communication should be in the form of a weather notification, causing alert for all coaches to make necessary preparations in the event of a weather delay. These preparations should include a review of safe shelter area. A safe shelter is determined as a building with 4 walls and a roof, with plumbing and electric. Essentially, “a place someone can work in”. A dugout, awning, or similar places are not safe during dangerous weather.
- The Licensed Athletic Trainer should also meet with any game official prior to the start of a contest to delineate the roles and responsibilities of the weather watcher and discuss suspension-evacuation procedures.
- Once activities have been suspended, teams should wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder and/or lightning flash before resuming activity or returning outdoors. The Athletic Trainer or other designated weather watcher will continue to monitor the weather conditions and will decide in conjunction with the Athletic Director, coaches, and officials when it is safe to return to activity.
*If there is no safe shelter within a reasonable distance, assume a crouched position on the ground with their weight on the balls of their feet in an effort to minimize contact with the ground. Wrap your arms around your knees and lower your head. DO NOT LIE FLAT!
*Lightning strike victims DO NOT carry an electrical signal, and should be treated as soon as possible – especially if cardiac or respiratory arrest signs are showing.
Heat Policy - WBGT & CWI Tub
As Athletic Trainers, we are trained to prepare for environmental issues to athletics, such as high temperatures. We have a policy in place that allows us to make accommodations to practice or competition depending on the environmental standings. We use Wet Bulb Globe Thermometers (WBGTs) to identify the amount of stress placed on an individual based on heat and humidity. This reading should be taken whenever the forecasted outside temperature will exceed 75 degrees F and should be repeated hourly if temperature is expected to increase. The number identified on the WBGT corresponds to a potential accommodation on the chart. The chart is shown below:
Activity Guideline and Rest Breaks
Normal Activity – Provide a minimal of a 5-minute rest break for every 30 minutes of practice. Unlimited access to water as needed.
82.0 – 86.9
Use discretion for intense or prolonged exercise; watch at-risk players carefully. Provide a minimal of a 5-minute rest break for every 30 minutes of practice. Unlimited access to water as needed.
87.0 – 89.9
Maximum outdoor practice time is 2 hours. For football: Players are restricted to helmet, shoulder pads and shorts, and all protective equipment is to be removed for any conditioning activities. If the WBGT rises to this level during practice, players may continue to practice wearing football pants without changing to shorts; however, players should be consistently carefully monitored. For all sports: provide a rest break every 15 minutes of practice with at least a minimum duration of 4 minutes.
90.0 – 92.0
Maximum outdoor practice time is 1 hour. For football: no protective equipment may be worn during practice, and there may be no conditioning activities. For all sports: there must be 20 minutes of rest break distributed throughout the 1 hour practice time.
No outdoor workouts. Practice should be delayed until cooler WBGT is reached or move indoors into an air conditioned environment.
Athletic Trainers are also trained to identify specific conditions that can result from increased outside temperature. The following is a list of heat related illnesses that will be discussed in detail another section: Heat Cramps, Heat Syncope, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. Heat Stroke is a medical emergency that is treated by cooling the body as fast as possible and activating EMS. We cool the body by immersing the athlete in a Cold Water Immersion TUB (CWI Tub) all the way up to his/her shoulders, so that someone (preferably the Athletic Trainer) can hold the athlete from behind using a towel under the armpits to prevent the athlete from going underwater. The CWI Tub is filled 2/3 with water before any practice or competition if the temperature outside is above 75 degrees F. 30 gallons of ice is preferred to be ready on “stand-by” in case an athlete needs to be immediately cooled. The athlete will be cooled until the core body temperature reaches at maximum 102 degrees, then will be transported via EMS to the nearest Emergency Department for continual cooling, rehydration, and monitoring.