Anderson reports no heat-related sports problems

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Education, preparation said to be keys

By John Herndon

The oppressive heat that enveloped Anderson County at the end of last week caused few problems for students preparing for the upcoming seasons.

“So far, so good,” Anderson athletic director Rick Sallee said in an e-mail.

The heat-related death of a football player at Louisville's Pleasure Ridge Park High School two years ago increased awareness of the dangers of practicing in excessive heat, prompting the state to require coaches to take an online sport safety course put together by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and the Kentucky Medical Association.

Fall sports, which started official practice on July 15 and could have informal workouts after the mandated dead period ended on July 9, are considered to be the most likely to have heat-induced problems.

When the heat index reaches 95 degrees, the KHSAA requires a 10-minute water break every 30 minutes. Towels with ice are also required. At 100, more measures, such as removing helmets for football, are mandated.

When the heat index reaches 104, all outdoor activities must stop, according to KHSAA rules.

The heat index hovered in the high 90's for several days last week.

“We have been practicing early or late,” Sallee said, noting one of the most basic measures used to combat heat.

“We were fortunate enough to have our practices so far at 8:30 in the morning,” said Anderson County football coach Mark Peach. “Usually before lunch the heat isn't as bad.”

At Friday's practice, the Bearcats took long water breaks and no one appeared to be experiencing any heat-related issues.

While not operating under KHSAA jurisdiction, the Anderson County Marching Band has been working long hours in the heat as it gets ready for competition. During last Friday's practice, the band took frequent water breaks and several large containers were readily available.

Anderson band director Patrick Brady said the only problems the Marching Bearcats have had stemmed from failure to properly prepare for the circumstances.

“They have done well but the ones that have gotten sick were the ones from physical (issues) that did not eat breakfast,” Brady said in an e-mail. “One day in the heat made by kids take preparation for the heat much more seriously. We haven't had any illness due to heat.”

Peach agreed that preparation is the key.

“We try to educate our kids as best we can to keep themselves hydrated,” he said. “If they come to practice and they are really thirsty before we even stretch, that is not a good sign. Proper hydration before and after participation is a real key.”

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.