When the Apache football team took the field against Blinn College on Sept. 6 in Brenham, the temperature was hovering around 90 degrees and the humidity was high, let’s try 100%- conditions that are perfect for athletes to suffer a heat-related illnesses.
“Heat illness is likely to occur during hot and humid conditions when the body sweats to cool off,” according to information from the Korey Stringer Institute, a nonprofit organization named after a Minnesota Vikings lineman who died of a heatstroke.
Athletes who lose too much fluid can suffer cramps, heat exhaustion and even a heat stroke.
According to a report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury at the University of North Carolina, since 1995 at least 29 athletes have died from a heat stroke while participating in sports.
The report says that heat strokes are 100 percent preventable and those involved need to understand why a heat stroke occurs, or how to recognize and treat it.
Daniel Easley, athletic trainer, said prevention starts with athletes taking proper care of their bodies.
“Kids need to start paying more attention to their bodies and health,” Easley said. “It’s not something that you can take for granted. It’s too easy for your body to just shut down and that can result in serious injury. It only takes a few, easy steps to stay hydrated and prevent heat related injuries.”
Signs of dehydration and heat-illness include increased thirst, dry mouth, weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, confusion, sluggishness, fainting, and decreased urine output, according to wepmd.com.
Eating and staying hydrated before doing and physical activity outside are the most important ways to prepare for hot conditions, according to the website.
“It’s all about preparation and proper nutrition,” Easley agreed. “Once you’re thirsty it’s too late. A lot of kids we have won’t eat just because they aren’t hungry, but when you get hot, you burn threw those calories quick and it’s important to have enough calories to replace the lost ones.”
Chaston Bennett, a running back for the Apaches who has rushed for nine touchdowns and 384 yards in two games this season, said he tries to take in plenty of fluids even when he is not involved in football.
“You’ve got to stay hydrated while you are in your room, and when you have to leave for class or anything, just carry a jug of water with you,” said Bennett, sophomore from Rusk.
He also watches his diet.
“When you eat, make sure your diet consist of fruit, and not junk food or any type of soda. Stuff like that causes bad things in your body,” Bennett said.
According to eatingwell.com, in addition to drinking water and other healthy fluids, people can contribute to their daily water intake by eating foods with high water content, such as cucumbers and strawberries.
Eating fruits, which have fewer calories than most foods, fights sluggishness that comes from being dehydrated and helps to keep the body satisfied, the website said.
Michael Crews, a shortstop on the Apache baseball team, has his own way of staying hydrated.
“Other than drinking water and eating fruit, I drink one liter of Pedialyte a day,” said Crew. “It gives me the energy and the fuel that I need to survive those three-hour long practices.”
Players report that conditions could be brutal.
“It’s a good 10 degrees hotter on the field,” Bennett said. “Not to mention all the equipment you have on. When you add that all together, it makes for some miserable conditions. It just forces you to focus more.”
The practice conditions are to prepare the players for the heat they face during games.
“Some people might think those conditions are crazy to practice in, but when you go out to play a game Friday night at 6 in the middle of August, it’s going to be just as hot. It’s good to practice what you play,” said Easley.
During games and practices, the trainers are always available with water to help make sure players don’t get too hot or dehydrated.