Football players

It’s the end of summer, and across the U.S., high school football players are hitting the field for practice. But running drills in heavy pads can be dangerous on hot days, and the risks are growing as the climate warms.

Andrew Grundstein of the University of Georgia studies the threat. He says heatstroke can be deadly, so staff must be trained to recognize the symptoms and respond quickly.

Coaches can also help prevent an emergency in the first place.

“Although the conditions are getting hotter, there’s a lot of different things that we can do to protect our players,” Grundstein says.

For example, coaches can make the first few weeks of practice less strenuous.

“Over time your body becomes better at handling the heat, so you don’t start with the most intense practice or conditioning drills. You ease into it,” he says. “For instance, you wouldn’t have them wear full pads and equipment, if they’re football players, the first couple days.”

When the temperature spikes, coaches can limit time outside or schedule practice for a cooler part of the day.

Grundstein says these precautions can help young athletes stay safe as the climate warms.

“You don’t need to stop sports because of this,” he says. “I just think you need to be more cognizant or aware of the problem so that you can set up good safety policies.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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