We’ve all seen the headlines about the dangers of concussions for football players. While this topic has become part of the national conversation, there is another danger to players that need addressing as well: heat. The dangers of heat to football players practicing outdoors are real.
Both high school and college football teams often begin practice for the fall season in July, when heat indices are at their highest around the country. To add to that, they often start “two a days” by August to get ready for the season as quickly as possible. People often do not realize how dangerous heat can be, because heat illness comes on slowly. Still, it is extremely dangerous—much more so than lightning, for example. Dr. Michelle Hawkins, the Climate, Weather and Health Lead in the National Weather Service Climate Services Branch, explained in a recent piece for Forbes that over 650 people die per year from exposure to extreme heat. This is the most of any weather threat. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, 52 football players died over the period 1995 to 2012 from exertional heat stroke (EHS).1
These numbers are shocking, and it’s time to face them. Heat illness is not something that young players—or anyone at any age—can “shake off.” It is insidious, and it is a growing problem. In fact, researchers at UGA found that heat-related football deaths tripled between 1994 and 2009, likely due to higher average morning temperatures. Most of the deaths occurred in August.
One strategy is to modify or cancel practice when the heat index rises, keeping in mind that sweat evaporates very quickly in hot and dry weather so players don’t realize how dehydrated they may be. Also, as relative humidity increases, the effectiveness of sweating in cooling the body decreases. 2 That’s why it’s so important to know the relative humidity level.
In conditions where the heat index is only slightly elevated, Florida-based Breezer Mobile Cooling has a solution to reduce the risk of heat-related injuries. The compact Power Breezer is a powerful mobile cooling unit that quietly cools players and staff. As the most effective sideline cooling fan on the market, the Power Breezer cooling fan is effective at helping athletes recuperate from heat and is capable of cooling a 3,000-sq. ft. area by up to 27⁰F.
To learn more, please visit powerbreezer.com/sports/ today.