How To Use WBGT for Heat Stress Management in Student Athletes
Here’s how to use WBGT effectively to reduce student athlete deaths and injuries from heat stress.
If you’ve read our guide to heat safety for student athletes, you know that WBGT is the most important measurement your school can have to protect student athletes from heat illness. In fact, we hosted a free webinar on this important topic with the Korey Stringer Institute.
You can watch a recording of the webinar by clicking the image below.
But measuring WBGT alone isn’t enough. States are getting stricter and stricter on everything from identifying heat stress levels and modifying activities. One of these states is Florida. Below you can explore our interactive map of state-mandated heat management policies. Click each state to learn more.
Keep reading this post to learn everything from Florida’s new bill to how you can use your school weather station to monitor and alert on WBGT. Or you can use the links below to skip to the sections you’re most interested in.
Florida’s HB 7011
HB 7011 is new legislation that requires additional protections for student athletes in Florida starting on July 1, 2020. One of these protections directly addresses is heat stress management. Even if you don’t live in Florida, we should all pay attention to what the sunshine state is doing regarding heat stress management for student athletes.
The bill specifically states the Florida High School Athletic Association will do three important things:
1. Make training and resources available to each member school for the effective monitoring of heat stress.
2. Establish guidelines for monitoring heat stress and identify heat stress levels at which a school must make a cooling zone available for each outdoor athletic contest, practice, workout, or conditioning session. Heat stress must be determined by measuring the ambient temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover at the site of the athletic activity.
3. Require member schools to monitor heat stress and modify activities, including suspending or moving activities, based on the heat stress guideline.
These requirements are scheduled to go in effect on July 1, 2020. If and when sports programs resume, schools will be ready to meet the new guidelines.
What Does This Have to do with WBGT?
It doesn’t say “wet bulb globe temperature” in that bill… right? Wrong! Take a look at the second sentence of the second provision:
Heat stress must be determined by measuring the ambient temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover at the site of the athletic activity.
And now let’s take a look at the definition of wet bulb globe temperature:
WBGT: The apparent measurement used to estimate the most accurate level of heat stress in direct sunlight, which includes: Temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover
Wet bulb globe temperature is at the core of this and every effective heat stress management policy in place to protect student athletes.
Monitoring WBGT at Your School
You don’t have to live in Florida to measure and monitor WBGT at your school. In fact, all high schools (and any outdoor athletic or recreation programs, for that matter) should monitor WBGT to reduce heat-related illnesses.
There are a few ways to monitor WBGT like manual calculations or handheld devices, but they the most comprehensive tool for WBGT measurement is a weather station.
On-site weather stations give you the most up-to-date data, including current readings and a 10-minute average. WBGT data from stations are extremely accurate because they are calibrated by meteorologists.
Another reasons weather stations are a superior tool for monitoring WBGT readings is that stations are often connected to weather visualization and alerting tools, like our Sferic Maps and Mobile. Not only can these tools help with current conditions, but they store historical WBGT data so you can investigate any student athlete heat-related incidents.
Monitoring WBGT Example
Let’s take a look at how quick it is to monitor current WBGT conditions, the 10-minute WBGT average, and access historical data in Florida using a weather station on our weather visualization tool: Sferic Maps.
You can watch the short video walkthrough above, or scroll down through the screenshots and captions.
Here’s a look of the WBGT layer on Sferic Maps. If we zoom in, we see that Lely High School in Naples, Fl. has an Earth Networks weather station that measures WBGT.
When we click on the station, we can see the current observations, which include the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) of 80.5 degrees Fahrenheit and the WBGT 10 Min Avg of 81.1 degree Fahrenheit.
To get more details from this station and access historical WBGT points, we can click through to the Online Weather Center (OWC). We can click on Station Graph for historical data.
From here, you can access Today’s Graph, the Last Two Day’s Graph, or the Last 7 Days Graph and explore WBGTs. You can even compare them to other readings like outdoor temperature or relative humidity.
Monitoring WBGT is important, but not always possible. Athletic and recreational staff are often outside with their student athletes and other visitors. So what happens if you can’t sit there and monitor WBGT on your computer 24/7?
That’s where WBGT alerts come into play. Automatic alerts based on the wet bulb globe temperature are often the MVP when it comes to protecting student athletes. That’s because you can receive them via text, email, or through a weather app, like Sferic Connect.
With an alert to your phone, you’ll never miss the chance to put your heat stress policies into action based on the current or forecast WBGT.
Don’t Have Comprehensive Heat Stress Policies?
Now is the perfect time to spell them out!
We dive a little deeper into how to set up your policies by analyzing, planning, and implementing (API) them with correct alerts in our buying guides.
Heat Stress Management Webinar
At the end of the day, protecting your student athletes is your most important job. The best way to do that is with WBGT. But WBGT isn’t a one-stop solution. There is a lot of information you should know about heat stress to keep everyone safe.
The Korey Stringer Institute is the industry-leader for research, education, advocacy, and consultation to promote safety and prevent sudden death in student athletes.
Our joint webinar with the Korey Stringer Institute was an extremely informative presentation. KSI CEO Dr. Doug Casa and Associate Director of Sports Safety Mike Szymanski explained heat stress management best practices and how to implement them at your facility.
We kept a recording of the webinar so you can watch it on your own time. Watching this webinar could be the difference between life and death for your student athletes. Click the button below to watch!