High school football season is picking up and athletes are finding themselves braving high temperatures.
On Wednesday, a football player from Fitzgerald, Ga. died after practice and although his death has not been linked to the heat, local coaches said they are taking measures to try and prevent something like this from happening on their fields.
"When you have an issue like what happened in Fitzgerald, it's kind of an eye opener," said Dougherty County Comprehensive High School Head Football Coach Jesse Hicks.
The coach said it's a shame that it takes the loss of one life for others to value their own. The instructor said practicing in the heat can be detrimental for athletes because as they move, their bodies are drained of water, but the key is adding back what is lost.
"When you don't have water being put back, it's going to actually hurt him. Certain things set in like cramps," said Hicks.
He believes cramps and headaches are some of the first signs of someone actually being hurt or coming down with an illness. Coach Hicks said keeping the athletes hydrated while on the field is a good thing to do, but the best preventative measure is to educate them before they ever hit the field.
"It's more important to hydrate at night than it is the next day because the water is actually sitting in your system," explained Head Football Coach Jesse Hicks, "If you wait until 20 minutes before practice and go drink a gallon of water it's probably too late to hydrate."
The majority of his players are starting to follow his advice, said Hicks. Amaud Ross said it's been drilled into his head year after year.
"Water, PowerAde, Gatorade. No Kool-Aid, no sugar or nothing with sugar because it just makes you tired and brings your energy down," said High School Football Player Amaud Ross.
In addition to stressing hydration, the coach also advise his students to eat so they won't feel faint on the field. He said altering practice times during high temperatures is also important.
"We go to study hall for an hour. We go meet for about thirty minutes, and then we go and lift weights for about 30 minutes. So it puts us right about 6:30 to 7 o'clock," said Coach Hicks.
He said as a coach he abides by the golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated. And in this case, treat your students how you would want your children to be treated. Coach Hicks said when they are educated about heat safety sooner or later they will incorporate the tips into their daily routine.