Friday night football begins during excessive heat warning: Here’s how they stayed cool

This time of the year means high school football. Even if it doesn’t feel like football weather, in most cases the games go on.

At the Kempner Vs. Santa Fe game at Hall Stadium, all of the focus wasn’t on touch downs, a lot of effort went into making sure the heat didn’t win.

As the game got heated on the field, doctors and staff made sure things stayed cool.

This week’s game began during an excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service. It’s part of the reason why Houston Methodist always has doctors on standby at the games.

“Making sure that these kids are participating in pre-hydration, pre-snack loading, raising their salt levels up and also making sure to stay cool during game breaks,” said Sports Medicine Physician with Houston Methodist, Dr. Haris Vakil. He is among the team of Methodist physicians who work hand in hand with athletic trainers like Kara Sylvester who is Head Athletic Trainer at Kempner.

“We keep a cold tub on hand, a polar pod that we’re ready to throw kids in, so there’s a lot of preparation,” she said.

Like Kempner High School athletes, middle school kids are also on a different practice schedule.

“We switched from having afternoon practice, we had to go to morning practice because temperature-wise it’s still hot. So we have one coach that’s designated for time for water,” said middle school coach, William Bohannan.

Other precautions include allowing the kids to remove their pads and helmets when possible. Even with the extra steps, staff is still watching for possible signs of heat illness.

“Looking at a temperature of greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and having some sort of altered mental status changes. Excessive nausea, perhaps vomiting can alert us to heat stroke,” Vakil said.

Doctors say heat exhaustion has similar symptoms minus the altered mental state.

The excessive heat warning ended at 9 p.m. Friday, the heat advisory goes until 10 p.m. Saturday.

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