Safeguard Your Student Athletes with Wet Bulb Globe Temperature

Cover page for the Heat Safety eBook: "Safeguard Your Student Athletes With Wet Bulb Globe Temperature" featuring a football game

Heat stress management is becoming more and more important for schools and universities. Read this informative eBook to learn how to safeguard your student athletes using the industry best practice: Wet Bulb Globe Temperature.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Heat and Student Athletes

While your student athletes focus on training to beat their rivals, it’s up to you to protect them from their greatest opponent: Extreme Heat.

High school football players and cheerleaders on the field during a sunny, hot day

Respected athletic associations and organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), and U.S. Soccer recommend safety protocols based on Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) thresholds. State high school associations are increasingly adding WBGT to their heat safety policies as well, with Florida recently joining leaders like New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia.

You need to be ready to tackle heat stress before it reaches your student athletes and know what to do if it sneaks through your defense. Keep reading to learn more about this important threat and how you can manage it properly with Wet Bulb Globe Temperature.

 

 

Heat-Related Deaths & Illnesses

Extreme heat pushes the body beyond its limits and can result in the illness or death of even your most in-shape athletes. How? Extreme heat and high humidity work together as a team to slow evaporation in the body. In response, the body has to work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can result in a number of responses, ranging from the inability to concentrate to heat stroke.

Two female student athletes laying on a track in the sun with towels and water bottles, battling the heat

Heat illness isn’t something rare, either. In fact, an average of 2,800 heat-related hospitalizations happen and approximately 618 people die from extreme heat in the U.S. each year.

An average of 2,800 heat-related hospitalizations happen and approximately 618 people die from extreme heat in the U.S. each year. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, a lot of these illnesses and fatalities happen to student athletes. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heat illness is the leading cause of death and disability among high school athletes.

If heat stress is so preventable, why do more than 9,000 students suffer from heat illness every year?

 

 

A lot of this has to do with a lack of awareness and prevention protocol. Protecting athletes starts with awareness and ends with a detailed policy grounded in Wet Bulb Globe Temperature technology.

Spotting Heat Illnesses in Student Athletes

While it’s not as obvious as a broken bone, heat illnesses have their own list of symptoms. These symptoms differ depending on the specific illness. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke have their own list of symptoms and action plans.

Heat-Related Illnesses - what to look for and what to do for heat stroke and heat exhaustion in student athletes

Learning these symptoms is a key component in treating athletes before hat illness progresses to life-threatening conditions like exertional heat stroke (EHS).

Beyond knowing the signs of heat illness, the most important piece of the game plan is using Wet Bulb Globe Temperature solutions to automate your decision making.

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What Is Wet Bulb Globe Temperature?

The most important aspect of protecting student athletes from heat is using Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). WBGT is the apparent measurement used to estimate the most accurate level of heat stress in direct sunlight.

We calculate Wet Bulb Globe Temperature using:

  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed
  • Humidity
  • Sun Angle
  • Cloud Cover

 

The real purpose of using Wet Bulb Globe Temperature as a heat measurement is to keep people safe while performing strenuous outdoor activities at high temperatures.

Heat Stress Measurement Comparison Chart

WBGTHeat IndexTemperature
Measured in the sunA red check mark with a transparent background
Measured in the shadeA red check mark with a transparent background
TemperatureA red check mark with a transparent backgroundA red check mark with a transparent backgroundA red check mark with a transparent background
Relative humidityA red check mark with a transparent backgroundA red check mark with a transparent background
Cloud coverA red check mark with a transparent background
Wind speedA red check mark with a transparent background
Sun angleA red check mark with a transparent background

 

 

Best Practices

Preparing for an emergency should be the top priority for schools to ensure the safety of their athletes. School sanctioned athletic programs should use Wet Bulb Globe Temperature as a preventative against heat.

WBGT best practices:

Along with a plan grounded in WBGT, you should also consider the following best practices.

1. Best Practice Times: 6-9 a.m. and 6 – 9 p.m.

2. Practice Duration: Less than three hours

3. Take It Slow: The first 3 weeks of August pose the greatest risk

4. Ease Into It: Build up to full equipment and intensity

5. Drink Up: Keep players well hydrated

Create Your Own Heat Safety Plan

Football players Here are some things to consider when creating or updating your own heat safety plan:

  • Make your guidelines region specific
  • Account for the time of year and athlete acclimatization
  • Consider the level and duration of workouts
  • Understand and use Wet Bulb Globe Temperature
  • Acquire the proper tools to monitor conditions

 

Over the next few pages, we’ll cover WBGT suggested actions and plans from different organizations to help you protect your players. We’ll also help you understand some of the concepts above a little better.

 

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Policies & Guidelines

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) uses the Georgia High School Association’s WBGT Guidelines, which was developed with the help of the Korey Stringer Institute. The thresholds and recommended actions are as followed:

GHSA WBGT guildeline

 

It is important to note that your WBGT guidelines will look different than Georgia’s depending on what region your school is located in. To find out what region your state/organization is in, please read this recommend document.

 

 

State & Regional WBGT Policies

Our friends at the Korey Stringer Institute have done a lot of excellent, life-saving research and work around heat-related illnesses and heat safety for student athletes. Through their research, they’ve ranked the U.S. states regarding the implementation of evidence-based practice for preventing and managing heat stress. Here are the top ten 2020 high school sports safety policy rankings:

Six out of the top ten states use WBGT in their heat safety policies. You can use the interactive map below to see which states use what:

All policies in the top ten also include heat acclimatization. Even if your state doesn’t require WBGT readings or heat acclimatization, these are two best practices your school cannot overlook.

Heat Acclimatization: A complex series of changes of adaptions that occur in response to heat stress in a controlled environment over the course of seven to 14 days..

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How Can I Get Accurate WBGT Data?

School weather station measuring wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT)Now that you’ve drafted a detailed plan, you have to power it with accurate WBGT information. While there are devices that only measure WBGT, like handheld sensors, they are expensive and single purpose. As a school, you want to prioritize student safety in the most comprehensive, effective, and cost-effective way possible. Here are three measurement best practices your chosen solution should include:

1. Independent measurements
2. Audit trail
3. Forecast based on local observations

 

Follow The Best Practices With a School Weather Station

That’s why we recommend a school weather station as the ultimate WBGT monitoring and alerting tool. This multi-use, commercial-grade technology not only includes WBGT information, but other life-saving weather data like lightning, NWS alerts, and wind chill.

Earth Networks offers every criteria above, as well as:

  • Real-time readings for Wet Bulb Globe Temperature
  • Hyperlocal forecasts for Wet Bulb Globe Temperature
  • Wet Bulb Globe Temperature 10-minute averages
  • Custom alerts for Wet Bulb Globe Temperature

An Earth Networks school weather station measuring WBGT at a football field

Protect Your Student Athletes Today

No matter what happens in this world, student health and safety will always be at the top of your priority list. Start protecting them today from the dangers of extreme heat and everything else Mother Nature has up her sleeve with a professional-grade school weather station from Earth Networks.

GET A SCHOOL WEATHER STATION

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Now that you know that Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is the best measurement to help you safeguard student athletes, it’s time to learn more about the technology that makes your school or university a weather-safe environment.

Check out our free Campus Safety Weather Solutions Buying Guide for a detailed breakdown of how to best protect your students from heat and other types of severe weather. This guide covers everything from the science behind dangerous weather, plans to help you prepare, and the technology that powers the best solutions. Check it out!

Click here to download our campus safety weather solution buying guide

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