SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Potentially record high temperatures in the Dakotas this week have prompted officials to caution high schools to remain mindful of the health and safety of athletes, coaches and officials as they train and compete outside.
As the Midwest wilts under an unusual late-summer heat wave, John Krogstrand, assistant executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, reminded school athletic directors and coaches in an email that they have the option of postponing or rescheduling games, especially outdoor football contests, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan newspaper reported.
He also sent an email to referees, reminding them they are not immune to heat illnesses and should remain hydrated during games.
“I would strongly recommend that every game this week use not only the heat time-out near the mid-point of each quarter, but also give consideration to the extended time-outs during changes of possession, etc.,” Krogstrand said. “The safety of our student athletes needs to be the top priority this weekend, and additional time for ‘cool-down’ is only appropriate.”
The North Dakota High School Activities Association has issued heat-related guidelines for football and boys’ soccer games, including more water timeouts, NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling told the Forum newspaper.
“We are concerned about all the activities with the heat,” Sylling said. “But football is a major concern because of helmets, pads and the other equipment involved.”
North Dakota guidelines also call for practices or games outdoors or in buildings without air conditioning to be suspended if the heat index — the combination of heat and humidity — reaches 104 degrees.
Temperatures in the Dakotas are expected to be mostly in the 90s throughout the week, with the heat index making it seem even hotter. South Dakota likely is experiencing its hottest final week of August on record, according to the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls.
Many schools in the two states are closing early or calling off classes. Some, such as Ipswich, S.D., also have moved sports practices from the afternoons to mornings, when it is cooler, and others, such as Central Valley in North Dakota, are considering pushing back the starting time of games until later in the evening.
That school also is having football players practice without pads, athletic director Randy Vigen told the Grand Forks Herald.
“We really watch the heat index ... and make sure the kids are taking breaks and getting hydrated,” he said.
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