Tips to keep student athletes safe in the summer heat

Harrisburg High football players practice Saturday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s hot and hazy outside, and many local football teams are already out practicing in it.

They’re taking some precautions established by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, or PIAA.

The PIAA’s heat acclimatization training doesn’t begin until August 7, but many teams are using some of guidelines they learned in previous years now.

“As far as the heat, right now it’s pretty bad,” said Dionte Payne, a rising senior at Harrisburg High.

Payne has been playing football since he was six years old.

“I’m looking to play college ball,” Payne said. “Of course, I want to go D1. Right now, I’m only getting D2 looks. I have to keep on working hard.”

Harrisburg High football players practice Saturday.

The team captain tries to start every practice off on the right foot.

“Stay in the shade,” Payne said. “Drink as much water as possible. Whenever you can, just stay covered up. Put a towel over your head.”

The Harrisburg High School Cougar’s practiced Saturday morning in t-shirts and shorts. PIAA guidelines state students should not wear full protective gear until they’ve completed five days of heat acclimatization.

They also cannot practice more than five hours a day. The athletes must have a two-hour break if they’re training more than three hours.

“We can’t put gear on until camp, which is in August, so that’s going to be a whole other animal we have to tackle once they get the gear on. Obviously, we’re going to have to make our periods shorter and give them water breaks more frequently,” said Calvin Everett, head football coach and athletic director for the Harrisburg Cougars.

Everett says he makes sure his players drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun for long periods of time, and take a break if they feel overheated.

“We’ll go inside, inside of our field house, and do things in there. During our practices, they’re structured in 15 20-minute segments. We get plenty of water breaks so the kids can stay hydrated because that’s key,” Everett said with sweat rolling down his forehead.

Even the coaches are trying to cool down. They will go inside to the field house if the temperature is too high.

“Having to train in extreme temperatures, that’s extremely difficult, and it’s also dangerous,” Everett said.

“People lose their lives all the time on the football field in the heat, so it’s really important,” Payne said.

Everett encourages his players to have a gallon of water each day.

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