High school athletes have started practice for fall sports. But with dangerously high heat indexes this week, young men and women are at risk of heat illness.
"We talk to them every day about drinking a gallon of water a day," Buckhorn High School football coach Keith Henderson said.
Buckhorn High School, along with many of their competitors around Huntsville and Madison County, have about two weeks of practice before their first games.
Henderson says they follow Alabama High School Athletic Association guidelines for playing in the heat.
"If we do have some trouble, get them cooled down first. Maybe an ice bath or cool towels on them," Henderson said.
When the heat index is between 91 and 103 degrees, the AHSAA tells coaches to cut off practices at two hours, keep it to helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, and remove all equipment for conditioning.
"Sometimes a kid will just stop sweating and that's a serious sign," Henderson said.
During hot weather, an athlete is subject to heat cramps, heat fatigue, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Some trouble signs to look out for including nausea, incoherence, fatigue, weakness, vomiting, cramps, weak rapid pulse, visual disturbance, and unsteadiness.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association has a list of some of the precautionary measures recommended to try to help prevent any of those from happening. They want athletes to weigh in each day before and after practice and have their weight charts checked over a three percent weight loss through sweating is in the danger zone.
The association also wants to warn athletes about the use of any products containing ephedra. Ephedra has been associated with two heatstroke deaths in athletes. A minimum of 10 minutes of water break should be scheduled every 20 minutes of exercise in the heat.