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Administrative Regulation
Descriptor Code: IDE(3)-R(4)
Competitive Interscholastic Activities, Grades 6-12 - Athletic Program Severe Weather Regulations  
Print Policy
 

ATHLETIC PROGRAM SEVERE WEATHER REGULATIONS

 

The following are procedures for heat-related illness, extreme cold temperatures, and lightning as they apply to athletic activities. Because Oconee County's geographical climate varies, many of the topics outlined below may not apply to all athletic teams, may not require every step listed, or may call for different or additional measures. This document is applicable to all middle school and high school athletic programs.

This regulation has four important components:

  1. A clear chain of command for showing who will make weather decisions
  2. The identification of a system employee who will be responsible for monitoring the weather
  3. Instruction on how weather indicators will be used
  4. Outlines of specific steps that will be taken under conditions of high heat, extreme cold, and lightning.

ANNUAL MANDATORY MEETING

The Oconee County Schools (OCS) will hold an annual mandatory meeting with the coaches and athletic directors prior to the beginning of the school year. At the meeting, the administrator must go over the procedures regarding heat-related illnesses and other severe weather issues. The goal is to continue to educate and update coaches on the weather factors affecting the various extracurricular athletic teams sponsored by OCS. Coaching staff are expected to follow these procedures and any other material presented at the meeting. 

All coaches must sign in at the meeting to verify attendance. This will serve as a record that they have received the in-service training. The sign-in sheet must be kept on file at the local school and a copy should be sent to the office of Student Services.

Principals are responsible for ensuring that any individual who does not attend the meeting must attend a make-up session before they are approved to coach a team.

CHAIN OF COMMAND

The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), or designated school official (Athletic Director) who is trained in Wet Bulb Globe Temperature assessment, shall be responsible for reading and communicating the heat measurement findings to their high school Athletic Director and Principal as well as the middle school Athletic Director and Principal. The Principal or his/her designee makes the final decision regarding practice schedules.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR MONITORING THE WEATHER FOR ALL PRACTICES

The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), or designated school official (Athletic Director) who is trained in Web Bulb Globe Temperature assessment, is responsible for monitoring the weather prior to and during all practices.

Wet Bulb Globe

 

  • The risk of heat injury is determined by multiple factors including ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and solar radiant heat. The Web Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is used in athletic and in military settings because the reading combines radiant heat with water content measurements (ACSM). Individual reactions to heat will vary, due to physical condition, age, hydration, and previous medical history.
  • A Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) device and guidelines included in this regulation will be used to determine the Level of Caution for practice sessions during the months of May-September.
  • The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), or designated school official who is trained in WBGT assessment, shall be responsible for reading and communicating the heat measurement findings to the respective schools. It is the principals' responsibility to insure that guidelines be applied to practices that take place any time during the school day, on weekends, or off campus.
  • A Level 5 reading (Extremely High Risk) will result in the cancellation of all outdoor activity for a predetermined time period until additional readings are taken as stated in these guidelines.
  • The WBGT Levels of Caution and recommendations are based on research published by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

 

Exertional Heat Illness during Training and Competition - Armstrong, Lawrence E.; Casa, Douglas J.; Millard-Stafford, Mindy; Moran, Daniel S.; Pyne, Scott W.; Roberts, 
William O.; Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 39(3):556-572, March 2007. dol: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31802fa199

 

The following regulation statement will address the three Georgia High School Association (GHSA) points of concern: (1) Time of practices, (2) Workout to Rest ration, and (3) Heat Index and Practice Termination.

 

 

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)

Levels of Caution

Non-Acclimated (1-14 days)

 

 

Level

Non-Acclimated

WBGT

(1-14 Days)

Practice Hours

Breaks

1

Low Risk

66.9° and Lower

Reasonable

-As needed

-5 min break every

20-30 min

2

Moderate Risk

67°-75.9°

Use Caution

-5 min break every 

20 min

3

High Risk

76°-81.9°

Use Caution;

Full Pads

-Remove helmets

-5 min break every

20 min

4

Very High Risk

82°-84.9°

Practice should be shorter;

Helmets Only

-Remove helmets

-5 min break every

10-15 min

5

Extremely High Risk

85° and Higher

No practice until 

6:00 pm

assessment

No practice until 

6:00 pm assessment

 

 

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)

Levels of Caution

Acclimated (15 or more days)

 

 

Level

Non-Acclimated

WBGT

(1-14 Days)

Practice Hours

Breaks

1

Low Risk

69.9° and Lower

Reasonable

-As needed

-5 min break every

20-30 min

2

Moderate Risk

70°-78.9°

Use Caution

-5 min break every 

20 min

3

High Risk

79°-84.9°

Use Caution;

Full Pads

-Remove helmets

-5 min break every

20 min

4

Very High Risk

85°-87.9°

Helmets only at

3 pm practice

-Remove helmets

-5 min break every

10-15 min

5

Extremely High Risk

88° and Higher

No practice until 

6:00 pm

assessment

No practice until 

6:00 pm 

assessment

 

 

Guidelines for Outdoor Extracurricular Activities during Extreme Hot & Humid Weather

All coaches, administrators and athletic directors shall be familiar with and follow these guidelines and recommendations.

  • During the months of May, August and September, the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) or a designated school administrator who is trained in Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) assessment (at both Oconee County High School - OCHS and North Oconee High School - NOHS), will be responsible for taking a WBGT reading at 3:00 pm on official school days. Each school shall obtain and use a WBGT.
  • Since conditions are subject to change during any practice or event, measurements should be taken at regular intervals throughout the practice or event. The reading will be taken from the football practice field at each high school. A separate reading will be taken for indoor facilities that are not air-conditioned.
    • In the event of a sudden rise in temperature during practice, athletes should remove their pads and coaches should consider increasing breaks and decreasing practice time.
  • The ATC will report the Level of Caution to their system of administrators (principal or athletic director) at both the high school and middle school in their cluster.
  • When the ATC is responsible for covering a weekend or holiday practice session from May – September, he or she will take the WBGT reading before the session begins and alert the coaching staff of the Level of Caution for that event. If the ATC is not available for a weekend or holiday session, the athletic director will take the reading and report to the principal. The principal will make the final decision regarding practice.
  • During the months of June – September, coaches should schedule practices in the early morning (before 10:00 am) and in the evenings (after 6:00 pm). This will eliminate most canceled practice sessions due to extreme heat.
  • A WBGT reading of 85°F or greater (non-acclimatized) and 88°F or greater (acclimatized) will result in the cancellation of all outdoor activity until 6:00 pm of the same day.
    • From 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm, the ATC or designated school administrator may take additional measurements at 30 minute intervals to determine the Level of Caution.
    • For Acclimation Period of < 15 days: With a WBGT reading of Extremely High Risk/Level 5 (85°F or greater), teams may begin training at 6:00 pm in available indoor space until conditions are assessed at a Very High Risk/Level 4 (84.9°F or lower) level. Then, they may move outdoors and continue their session, dressed according to the WBGT guidelines.
    • For Acclimation Period of > 15 days: With a WBGT reading of Extremely High Risk/Level 5 (88°F or greater), teams may begin training at 6:00 pm in available indoor space until conditions are assessed at a Very High Risk/Level 4 (87°F or lower) level. Then, they may move outdoors and continue their session, dressed according to the WBGT guidelines.
    • If the WBGT reading remains at Level 5 (Extremely High Risk) at the 7:30 pm reading, then all outdoor activities will be canceled for the remainder of the day.
    • Athletes should vacate the practice facilities by 8:30 pm.
  • For Indoor Facilities
    • Indoor practices in non air-conditioned spaces should follow the same WBGT Levels of Caution in place for outdoor activities.
    • A reading from the center of each non air-conditioned practice area will be taken at 3:00 pm as indicated previously.
    • All guidelines and assessment procedures are the same for indoor and outdoor facilities.
  • The WBGT guidelines do not apply to scheduled GHSA competitions. The event game officials are responsible for determining safe conditions.


 

Non-Acclimated; <15 Days

 
 

Last assessment will occur at 7:30 pm. If the reading remains 85°F or Higher, no outdoor sessions will be allowed that day.

All athletes must vacate the practice facility by 8:30 pm.

   

Acclimated; > or = 15 Days

   
 
 

Last assessment will occur at 7:30 pm. If the reading remains 85°F or Higher, no outdoor sessions will be allowed that day.

All athletes must vacate the practice facility by 8:30 pm.

  • An unlimited supply of cold water or other hydration fluids shall be available and accessible during practices and games.
    • Coaches and personnel shall inform all participating athletes that hydration is available and accessible at any point during activity.
    • Hydration and fluid replacement is a daily process. Students should hydrate before, during, and after practice. Meals should include the appropriate amount of fluid intake in addition to a healthy diet.
  • Give adequate rest periods. Remove excess equipment when possible. Exposed skin cools more efficiently.
    • During rest periods, baseball, football, or softball players shall be allowed to remove helmets.
    • Excess pads should be removed if conditions warrant.
    • Shorts and t-shirts should be light in weight and in color.
  • Gradually acclimatize participants to the heat
    • Research indicates 80% acclimatization may be achieved in 7-10 days, but it may take up to 14 days (Armstrong, 2007).
    • Full acclimatization occurs on an individual basis.
  • Participants should weigh in before sessions and weigh out when finished with exercise. This procedure identifies those who are excessively dehydrated.
  • IDENTIFY students who need to be closely monitored. These students are considered non-acclimated if they have not participated in a sport training program 14 days prior to official GHSA practice.
    • Previous pertinent medical history (known to cramp, asthma, etc.)
    • Recent illness, such as the flu or diarrhea
    • Athletes with a weight control problem
    • Athletes taking contra-indicated medications
    • Athletes taking over-the-counter supplements
    • Athletes who have been inactive during pre-season
    • Transfer students whose history is not known
  • Be familiar with all heat related symptoms and corresponding treatments.
  • Be familiar with the Wet Bulb Globe diagrams and Levels of Caution to determine length of sessions and rest periods.
  • Teach the athletes about the dangerous heat illness signs and symptoms and how to monitor other teammates.
  • Teach athletes about prevention - such as dietary guidelines and about self-monitoring – such as urine color observation.
  • When an Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS) is suspected, a rectal thermometer will be used to measure core body temperature. Oral, ear, skin over the temporal artery (forehead), or axillary (under the arm) temperature measurements should not be used to diagnose EHS because they are spuriously lowered by the temperature of air, skin, and liquids that make contact with the skin (Armstrong, 2007).

Recommendations for Fluid Replacement (Casa, 2000)

Coaches, administrators and athletic directors should be familiar with and follow the guidelines and recommendations listed below.

  1. Set guidelines for fluid replacement during practice sessions.
  2. Encourage hydration by using clear water bottles, marked in 100ml increments, as a visual reminder of actual fluid intake.
  3. Athletes should be well hydrated at the onset of practice sessions. Use urine color charts to indicate normal hydration status.
  4. Cool beverages (50°F to 59°F) are better for absorption.
  5. Sports, such as wrestling, that require weight class restrictions should follow the recommendations of the GHSA for proper hydration.
  6. Educate parents, athletes, and coaches on proper rehydration as well as the signs and symptoms of dehydration.

Fluid Intake Guidelines (Casa, 2000)

  1. Two-Three hours pre-activity: 17-20 fluid ounces of water or sports drink
  2. 10-20 minute pre-activity: 7-10 fluid ounces of water or sports drink
  3. During activity: consume 7-10 fluid ounces every 10-20 minutes
  4. With two hours post-activity: replenish fluid loss with a combination of water, carbohydrates and electrolytes, and return to pre-activity weight class

Heat Illness Symptoms and Treatments

Heat illness is used to define several types of afflictions suffered when an individual experiences a rising core body temperature and bodily dehydration. The table below is a guide to heat induced illness, recognition of symptoms, and recommendations for treatment. These afflictions do not appear in stages; they may occur in conjunction or separate from another.

Affliction Symptoms Treatment

Heat Cramps:

High sweat output from intense activity causes an imbalance of electrolytes in skeletal muscle tissue. This imbalance causes involuntary cramps, common in the legs and abdominals.

Affected muscle group will tighten causing pain; athlete may not have control over muscle spasms

Remove from activity; drink oral electrolytes; use proper stretching and massaging; apply ice in some cases

Heat Exhaustion:

A person is unable to sustain level of activity. Heat exhaustion may occur in a variety of environments and sometimes the person will collapse.

Normal to high temperature; heavy sweating, heavy breathing; skin is flushed, or cool and pale; headaches, dizziness; rapid pulse, nausea or weakness; physical collapse may occur

Place in the shade; administer oral electrolytes, remove excess clothing, establish core temperature using the rectal thermometer; in some cases, immerse body in cold water

Heat Stroke:

Energy output from the body systems is not properly dispersed, causing a rise in core body temperature to 104°F or greater. If untreated, it can cause brain damage, internal organ damage and even death.

Disorientation, confusion or dizziness; loss of balance and muscle function; diarrhea, vomiting or seizures; sweating stops; shallow breathing and rapid pulse; possible disorientation or loss of consciousness; possible irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest

Call 911 immediately; cool body before ambulatory transfer; core body temperature is determined using a rectal thermometer; cold bath with ice packs near large arteries such as neck, armpits, and groin; monitor level of consciousness; if conscious and alert, administer oral rehydration; if possible, administer IV fluids

National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Lightening Safety Guidelines

  1. Establish a chain of command that identifies who is to make the call to remove individuals from the field.
    • The Athletic Director (AD) will stay in contact with the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) throughout any day that lightning is imminent in the area. The ATC will be responsible for reading and communicating the lightning distance findings and, with the AD, will direct all persons indoors to safe shelter if there is a lightning threat. If the school does not have an ATC, the AD will directly communicate to the coaches. The coaches will then direct their team indoors. A suggested method of communication is through radio or cell phone for time efficiency.
  1. Name a designated weather watcher (a person who actively looks for the signs of threatening weather and notifies the chain of command if severe weather becomes dangerous).
    • The ATC will be the designated weather watcher at outdoor practices that are located on campus.
    • The administrator/certified employee on duty will be the designated weather watcher at outdoor athletic events located on campus. They will also be responsible for practices and athletic events that are located off campus.
  1. Have a means of monitoring local weather forecasts and warnings - also know weather definitions. Watch indicates conditions are favorable for severe weather. Warning means severe weather has been detected in the area and all persons should take the necessary precautions.
    • Each Athletic Training Room and all school administrative office are equipped with computers with Internet access to monitor weather forecasts in the local area. Once practices or athletic events begin, it will be up to the administrator on duty to monitor the weather forecasts and warnings since the ATC will not have access to the Internet outdoors.
  1. Use the Flash-to-Bang Method to determine when to go to safety if a lightning detector is not available.
    • Lightning detectors will be the primary tool used the ATCs or coaches to read lightning distance in conjunction with the flash-to-bang method.
    • To use the flash-to-bang method, the observer begins counting when a lightning flash is sighted. Counting is stopped when the associated bang (thunder) is heard. Divide this count by 5 to determine the distance to the lightning flash (in miles).
    • Once the flash-to-bang count reaches 30 seconds (6 miles), or the detector reads lightning within 3-8 miles, all individuals should seek a safe shelter immediately.
    • Once activities have been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes following the last sound of thunder or lightning flash prior to resuming an activity or returning outdoors.
  1. Designate a safe shelter for each venue.
    • A “safe shelter” is defined as any substantial, frequently inhabited building. The electrical and telephone wiring and plumbing pathways aid in grounding a building. Be sure to not be connected to these pathways while inside the structure during a thunderstorm.
    • If a safe shelter is not available, a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and windows closed is another alternative. Be sure not to touch the metal framework of the vehicle while inside it during the ongoing thunderstorm.
    • Avoid being in contact with, or in proximity to, the highest point of an open field, as well as being on the open water. Do not take shelter under or near trees, flagpoles, or light poles.
    • Individuals who feel their hair “stand on end” or skin tingle or hear crackling noises should assume the lightning-safe position (i.e., crouched on the ground, weight on the balls of the feet, feet together, head lowered, and ears covered). Do not lie flat on the ground.
  1. Observe the following basic first aid procedures in managing victims of a lightning strike.
    • Survey the scene for safety. Ongoing thunderstorms may still pose a threat to emergency personnel responding to the situation.
    • Activate the local emergency management system (EMS).
    • Move the victim carefully to a safer location, if needed. Lightning victims do not “carry a charge” and are safe to touch.
    • Evaluate airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin CPR.
    • Evaluate and treat for hypothermia, shock, fractures, and/or burns.
  1. All individuals have the right to leave an athletic site in order to seek a safe shelter if the person feels in danger of impending lightning activity without fear of repercussions or penalty from anyone.

NATA Guidelines for Extreme Cold Temperatures

Outdoor sports with cold, wet, or windy conditions (or a combination of these) place athletes at risk for cold injuries. These injuries can be due to factors including air temperature, humidity, wind, and the condition of the skin (wet or dry). Two common cold weather injuries are hypothermia and frostbite.

HypothermiaWhen the body loses heat faster than it can generate heat resulting in a drop of the core temperature. This can occur suddenly or over a duration of many hours. It can also occur in cold and dry or cold and wet conditions.

Frostbite:  Actual freezing of the body tissues. This occurs due to the body’s natural response to shunt warm blood from the cold peripheral tissues to the core as a protective mechanism to preserve the core temperature.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Hypothermia

Frostbite

Mild Mild/Superficial
Core temperature of 98.6° - 95° F Dry, waxy skin
Amnesia, lethargy Edema
Vigorous shivering, cold extremities, pallor Tingling or burning
Normal blood pressure, conscious Skin has white or blue colored patches
Moderate Skin of affected area is cold and firm to touch
Core temperature of 94° - 90° F Movement of area affected is limited
Depressed respiration and pulse Deep
Cyanosis, cessation of shivering Skin feels hard and cold
Impaired mental function with slurred speech, impaired motor control, muscle rigidity, and dilated pupils Skin may be waxy and immobile, with white, gray, black, or purpose coloring
Decreased blood pressure Vesicles present
Severe Burning, aching, shooting, or throbbing pain
Core temperature below 90° F Circulation is poor in that area
Rigidity Progressive tissue necrosis
Low pulse and respiration Blisters may develop
Hypotension, pulmonary edema, ventricular fibrillation or cardiac arrest By this point there may be damage to muscles, peripheral nerves, and joints
Usually comatose Neurapraxia (nerve conduction failure)

These conditions can be avoided through proper prevention and risk management by the combined effort of the Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs), administrations, and coaches at North Oconee High School (NOHS) and Oconee County High Schools (OCHS).

The following are the steps that will be taken to prevent cold weather injuries in outdoor athletics:

  1. Encourage proper hydration and nutrition with a well-balanced diet.
    • Athletes need to drink plenty of warm fluids or water during exercise in the cold to maintain hydration even if they don’t feel thirsty. Typically, the thirst mechanisms are decreased during cold weather. Be sure to discourage alcohol, caffeine, or other diuretics as this will cause dehydration.
  1. Be sure that athletes, coaches, and parents are aware of the signs and symptoms of cold weather injuries (listed above).
  2. Identify and monitor athletes that are at high risk to cold injuries.
    • Low body fat composition
    • Females
    • Black race
    • Lower fitness level
    • Presence of cardiac diseases, anorexia, Raynaud Syndrome (cold allergy), or exercise-induced asthma
  1. Encourage athletes to wear clothing appropriate for cold weather.
    • The base layer should have minimal absorption and allow for sweat evaporation.
    • The middle layer should be thicker for insulation.
    • The outer layer should be removable, breathable, and wind and water resistant.
  1. Regularly evaluate the weather.
    • Continually check the weather forecasts for the day. Ask these questions:
      • What will the air temperature be?
      • What is the wind chill?
      • Will there be precipitation?
      • Is this outdoor activity high or low intensity? This will determine how well the athletes will warm-up throughout the activity.
      • Should we move this activity indoors? Be sure this place is heated so athletes can move indoors to re-warm themselves as needed.
  1. Follow the Athletic Emergency Protocol.
    • In the event that emergency medical services must be called, please use the emergency action plan for your sport. The ATC on duty (along with an M.D., if present) will act as the first responder until EMS arrives.
      • The ATC at each school will use active re-warming techniques with the hot tub, hot packs, and indoor heating from an established heated building on campus.
  1. The Certified Athletic Trainers and Athletic Directors for NOHS and OCHS will use the following guidelines to determine planning outdoor activities depending on the wind-chill and precipitation.
    • 30°F and below: Be aware that there is a potential for cold injury. ATC and AD will notify coaches, players, and parents of the risk. Layers of clothing are recommended as needed.
    • 25°F and below: Additional clothing and layers are recommended. Be sure to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Allow athletes to re-warm in heated facility as needed.
    • 15°F and below: Modifying the activity and exposure is highly suggested. Consider moving the activity indoors or allowing more frequent chances to re-warm in a heated facility.
    • 0° and below: Consider rescheduling the activity.

 

Use the Wind Chill Chart below to determine whether conditions are permissible for outdoor activities.

Wind Chill Chart

 

 

Temperature (°F)

Wind (mph)

Calm

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

-5

-10

-15

-20

-25

-30

-35

-40

-45

5

36

31

25

19

13

7

1

-5

-11

-16

-22

-28

-34

-40

-46

-52

-57

-63

10

34

27

21

15

9

3

-4

-10

-16

-22

-28

-35

-41

-47

-53

-59

-66

-72

15

32

25

19

13

6

0

-7

-13

-19

-26

-32

-39

-45

-51

-58

-64

-71

-77

20

30

24

17

11

4

-2

-9

-15

-22

-29

-35

-42

-48

-55

-61

-68

-74

-81

25

29

23

16

9

3

-4

-11

-17

-24

-31

-37

-44

-51

-58

-64

-71

-78

-84

30

28

22

15

8

1

-5

-12

-19

-26

-33

-39

-46

-53

-60

-67

-73

-80

-87

35

28

21

14

7

0

-7

-14

-21

-27

-34

-41

-48

-55

-62

-69

-76

-82

-89

40

27

20

13

6

-1

-8

-15

-22

-29

-36

-43

-50

-57

-64

-71

-78

-84

-91

45

26

19

12

5

-2

-9

-16

-23

-30

-37

-44

-51

-58

-65

-72

-79

-86

-93

50

26

19

12

4

-3

-10

-17

-24

-31

-38

-45

-52

-60

-67

-74

-81

-88

-95

55

25

18

11

4

-3

-11

-18

-25

-32

-39

-46

-54

-61

-68

-75

-82

-89

-97

50

25

17

10

3

-4

-11

-19

-26

-33

-40

-48

-55

-62

-69

-76

-84

-91

-98

 

Frostbite Times

30 min

 

10 min

 

5 min

 

 

Effective 11/01/01

Wind chill (°F) = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16)

Where, T = Air Temperature (°F), V = Wind Speed (mph)

United States Weather Service Wind Chill Chart (fig. produced from http://www.weather.gov/os/windchill/images/windchillchart3.pdf)

 

Oconee County Schools
Date Issued:  11/1/2001
Last Revised:  6/4/2012