High school football practice began for teams across the state Monday, and the first two days have been some of the hottest and most humid of the summer. Iowa High School Athletic Association assistant executive director, Todd Tharp, says schools were given information on how to protect players from the heat.

Tharp says they sent the schools a large box of information that contained a heat and humidity index chart, and they also offer the opportunity for schools to purchase lightning detectors and air hydrometers. The association has a policy that once the heat index reaches 130-degrees, all practices and games are to be stopped. Tharp says coaches and trainers are now very aware of the need to have plenty of water available for players.

He says the national association reports there have been 31 deaths due to heat since 2005, so it is “a high priority” that coaches take breaks and have water available for football players, even in the first few days before they wear full pads. Tharp says water remains the best thing to prevent heat-related problems.

Tharp says there is nothing wrong with Gatorade or Powerade, but those should be used after practice to rehydrate, and water is still the best thing during practice to keep kids safe. Tharp says they offer the lightning detectors as another safeguard schools can have at practice.

Tharp says a thunderstorm can pop up quickly, especially when it is this warm, and the detectors can warn of lightning from 24 t0 40 miles with a sensor that buzzes when lightning is in the area. He says they encourage schools to have a plan for what to do if there is lightning in the area. The first full night of high school football is August 27th.