West Chicago Voice - About Us : The voice of West Chicago, Illinois - digital local news - for locals by locals .

Stay Cool, Wildcats! Outdoor Sports and Excessive Heat

West Chicago Voice - The voice of West Chicago, Illinois - digital local news - for locals by locals .
Sharing is Caring, WeGo!

In light of the recent heat advisories, the Athletic Department at West Chicago Community High School has shared helpful information from the Illinois High School Association.

Across the state, athletic practices and events are already in full swing for the 2023-2024 school year. Competing in unseasonably hot temperatures and elevated humidity always poses concern for our Wildcats no matter the sport. The IHSA has recently shared its policies and guidelines concerning hot weather and athletic events. Across the web, evidence of the heat warnings continue to be real as many Chicagoland schools switched to e-learning today, especially those without air conditioning.

West Chicago Voice - The voice of West Chicago, Illinois - digital local news - for locals by locals .

According to IHSA rules, schools may have to cut practices short and take other precautions. The IHSA rules apply to all sports, indoor and outdoor. We’ve rounded up some information we feel will be helpful going forward.

If it’ 80 degrees or under, the IHSA isn’t sweating it. They say,

 “When the air temperature is below 80 degrees, there is no combination of heat and humidity that will result in need to curtail activity or implement this policy. While most attention will be given to outdoor sports in the fall and spring, indoor venues/facilities (gymnasiums, wrestling rooms, and swimming/diving facilities) that are not air conditioned should not be neglected for the purposes of this policy.  Additionally, sometimes conditions will vary for different aspects of the same competition. For example, one part of a cross-­‐country course may be hotter or more humid than other parts. The best course of action for managers is to take the heat index at the place of the most severe conditions.”

IHSA guidelines –View full information from the IHSA here.

However, when temps rise, there are rules in place to ensure participant safety. The rules call for taking temperature readings every 30 minutes starting a half hour before practice. Schools also have to provide cooling stations like shaded areas with ice and water. This week, heat indices are expected to surge to 115 degrees in some places.

For temps between 100 (more than 99 degrees)-­‐104 degrees, the IHSA guidelines are as follows:
1. Provide ample amounts of water. This means that water should always
be available and athletes should be able to take in as much water as
they desire.
2. Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration.
Coordinate breaks with assigned contest officials.
3. Ice-­‐down towels for cooling.
4. Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action
5. Alter uniform by removing items if possible.
6. Allow for changes to dry t-­‐shirts and shorts.
7. Reduce time of outside activity as well as indoor activity if air
conditioning is unavailable.
8. Consider postponing activity to later in the day or another day (with
approval from IHSA Administration)
ii. Contact sports and activities with additional protective equipment (in addition
to the above measures)
1. Helmets and other possible equipment removed if not involved in
contact or necessary for safety. If necessary for safety, suspend activity.
iii. Recheck air temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for
increased Heat Index.

For coaches, managers and trainers, the IHSA suggests using a “Wet Bulb Thermometer” to get accurate heat readings in school facilities and outside as well.

What is a wet bulb thermometer?

According to wiki: 

A wet-bulb temperature (WBT) is the temperature read by a thermometer covered in water-soaked (water at ambient temperature) cloth (a wet-bulb thermometer) over which air is passed. At 100% relative humidity, the wet-bulb temperature is equal to the air temperature (dry-bulb temperature); at lower humidity the wet-bulb temperature is lower than dry-bulb temperature because of evaporative cooling. Even heat-adapted people cannot carry out normal outdoor activities past a wet-bulb temperature of 32 °C (90 °F), equivalent to a heat index of 55 °C (131 °F). A reading of 35 °C (95 °F) – equivalent to a heat index of 71 °C (160 °F) – is considered the theoretical human survivability limit for up to six hours of exposure.

How does a wet bulb thermometer give more accurate readings for athletes? How does it work?

From Wiki: If a thermometer is wrapped in a water-moistened cloth, it will behave differently. The drier and less humid the air is, the faster the water will evaporate. The faster water evaporates, the lower the thermometer’s temperature will be relative to air temperature.

Water can evaporate only if the air around it can absorb more water. This is measured by comparing how much water is in the air to the maximum that could be in the air—the relative humidity. 0% means the air is completely dry, and 100% means the air contains all the water it can hold in the present circumstances and it cannot absorb any more water (from any source).

This is part of the cause of apparent temperature in humans. The drier the air, the more moisture it can take up beyond what is already in it, and the easier it is for extra water to evaporate. The result is that sweat evaporates more quickly in drier air, cooling down the skin faster. If the relative humidity is 100%, no water can evaporate, and cooling by sweating or evaporation is not possible.

When relative humidity is 100%, a wet-bulb thermometer can also no longer be cooled by evaporation, so it will read the same as an unwrapped thermometer.

Tips from an IHSA “Play it Safe in the Heat” publication states the following ways to combat the heat for athletes during times of excessive heat:

  • Physical exertion and training
    activities should begin slowly and
    continue progressively.
  • Keep each athlete’s individual
    level of conditioning and medical
    status in mind and adjust activity
  •  Adjust intensity, rest breaks, and
    consider reducing uniform and
    protective equipment.
  • Athletes must begin workouts
  • Recognize early signs of distress
    and developing exertional heat
    illness. Treat immediately.
  • Recognize more serious signs.
  • An emergency action plan should
    be in place

West Chicago Voice - The voice of West Chicago, Illinois - digital local news - for locals by locals .

For coaches, managers, and athletic trainers: a heat acclimation process is suggested as the safest way to compete and deal with the heat:

Steps To Safety Acclimatize Athletes to the heat!

  • Hydrate before, during and after
  • Modify activities in relation to
    environmental heat stress &
    contributing individual risk
    factors (i.e. illness, obesity)
  • Monitor all athletes during
    workouts and training in the heat
  • Monitor player weights before
    and after practice/work-out
  • Establish an emergency action
  • Be prepared to cool athletes
    quickly (i.e. ice towels, cold
    water submerssion)

* Soucre: IHSA brochure, view in it’s entirety here.

Further tips to manage heat illnesses are available here on the IHSA website.

Throughout the week, parents and athletes are encouraged to frequently check the West Chicago Community High School’s Athletic Department website here. Things can change quickly due to excessive heat.  Announcements as to any changes to practice schedules or competitions/events will be made as soon as possible.  Today, WCCHS Athletics put out an urgent notice stating the Varsity tennis match is cancelled due to the heat indices. As of publishing time, Fresh A and JV Soccer will be starting at 5:30 PM, Varsity Soccer starting at 7:30. Girl’s golf is still scheduled to kick off at 5:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Golf Club. There will also be indoor team events for Girl’s FA volleyball between 4:30-6:30 pm.

Friday, the football season officially kicks off for WCCHS. They will face the South Elgin Storm, at South Elgin High School. 760 E Main St, South Elgin -Kick off is 7:00 p.m. Football Head coach, Adam Chavez appraised The Voice on the heat situation by saying, ” We are on our normal practice schedule with modified equipment and locations based on weather.  We are constantly looking at the weather to check for changes and will adjust accordingly” . Friday’s heat is looking more favorable for football, fortunately. He also stated that there is always at least 1 trainer at every football practice.

Questions? Comments? Join the conversation and drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts.  West Chicago Voice is the new source for news for locals by locals. Subscribe here.


Leave a Reply