Ice baths and a scientific tool required on practice fields

Westover High School Band practicing in high temperatures. / Jessica Fairley

Starting this week many students are heading back to school for band camp. As they prepare for the new year, they're also having to brave high temperatures.

Band directors say they can't drill it into the students' heads enough that they need to stay hydrated.

"They have to be drinking water and Gatorade the day before. Whatever they drink the night before, that affects what happening the day of," says Hank Carter, Lee County High School Band Director.

This includes the foods they eat. Students are instructed to eat a balanced meal to keep them going as they battle heat during practice.

"We encourage the kids to eat a healthy breakfast. Stay away from sugar and grease. Things that are going to upset their stomachs," says John

Scanling, Westover High School Band Director.

While students are encouraged to follow suggestions outlined by their leaders, instructors are also expected to do their part to keep students safe.

The Georgia High School Association has implemented a new requirement that schools have to use a scientific device that measures a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to make sure the outside temperature is appropriate for activity.

"The cyclometer measures the heat index and all the Dougherty County athletic programs have to have one," says John Scanling.

When the heat index reaches 92 according to the device, students have to go inside.

"The device also lines out different levels of how often students need water breaks, and how long those breaks have to be. When it gets to a certain temperature outside, students have to stop rehearsing altogether," says Hank Carter.

Under practice new rules, schools are also required to provide students with ice towels and spray bottles filled with ice when the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is above 86.

Some band directors say their goal is to avoid the heat by scheduling outside practices in the early morning and heading inside in the afternoon to keep their musicians healthy.

See below for the complete list of rules outlined by the Georgia High School Association for sports heat related illness prevention.

Schools must follow the statewide policy for conducting practices and voluntary conditioning workouts in all sports during times of extremely high heat and/or humidity that will be signed by each head coach at the beginning of each season and distributed to all players and their parents or guardians. The policy shall follow modified guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine in regard to:

1. The scheduling of practices at various heat/humidity levels

2. The ratio of workout time to time allotted for rest and hydration at various heat/humidity levels

3. The heat/humidity level that will result in practice being terminated

A scientifically approved instrument that measures Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) reading must be utilized at each practice to ensure that the written policy is being followed properly.



UNDER 82.0

Normal activities --Provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour of minimum duration of 3 minutes each during workout

82.0 -86.9

Use discretion for intense or prolonged exercise; watch at-risk players carefully; Provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour of a minimum of four minutes duration each.

87.0 â" 89.9

Maximum practice time is two hours. For Football: players restricted to helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts during practice. All protective equipment must be removed for conditioning activities. For all sports: Provide at least four separate rest breaks each hour of a minimum of four minutes each


Maximum length of practice is one hour, no protective equipment may be worn during practice and there may be no conditioning activities. There must be 20 minutes of rest breaks provided during the hour of practice.


No outdoor workouts; Cancel exercise; delay practices until a cooler WBGT reading occurs


1. Rest time should involve both unlimited hydration intake (water or electrolyte drinks) and rest without any activity involved

2. For football, helmets should be removed during rest time

3. The site of the rest time should be a "cooling zone" and not in direct sunlight.

4. When the WBGT reading is over 86:

a. ice towels and spray bottles filled with ice water should be available at the "cooling zone" to aid the cooling process.

b. Cold immersion tubs must be available for practices for the benefit of any player showing early signs of heat illness.


1. PRACTICE: the period of time that a participant engages in a coach-supervised, school-approved sport or conditioning-related activity. Practices are timed from the time the players report to the field until they leave.

2. WALK THROUGH: this period of time shall last no more than one hour, is not considered to be a part of the practice time regulation, and may not involve conditioning or weight-room activities. Players may not wear protective equipment.

PENALTIES: Schools violating the heat policy shall be fined a minimum of $500.00 and a maximum of $1,000.00.

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