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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A PRP High School football player was treated and released from a Louisville hospital Monday after showing signs of heat stress. The incident illustrates the heightened awareness of keeping players safe in the heat.
It's day two of football practice at Male High School. These early-season drills in the summer heat are when players are most vulnerable to heat stress. It's one reason why head coach Chris Wolfe likes early morning practices.
"Number one, it develops a good work ethic as far as getting up and getting to work. It gets them ready for school time. And number two, it's a lot cooler in the morning."
Practice times are up to the individual schools, but there are certain rules every coach and player must follow. "Provide ample amounts of water. If it starts getting more hot than that, you have to take scheduled breaks, provide towels to kids to cool them down. So as the temperature increases, the requirements of the coaches increases as well," said JCPS Athletic Director Jerry Wyman.
And when the heat index reaches 104, all activity must stop. No exceptions. Each team is required to carry at least one hygrometer. It measures both the air temperature and the humidity.
The coaches check those numbers against a chart they're required to carry. Let's say the temperature is 88 and the humidity 80 percent.
"You got 88 and 80, and they come over here and they'll see well, we're at 106 degrees. And they'll come down here and say, well it's over 104, we can't do anything," said Wyman.
Coach Wolfe schedules water breaks every 15 minutes. But he says he's most concerned that his players are also doing the right thing off the field.
"I tell them to get a milk jug and fill it up with water. And I want that thing finished before you come back to practice the next day. If you can tell them those things over, and over, and over, they realize the importance of it. So a lot of it is education."
There's one new rule that applies to every school in the state: when 2-a-day practices begin, there must be at least three hours between sessions to allow the players to cool down.