Staying safe as players, fans prepare for football games in extreme heat
With high temperatures, a Vanderbilt doctor says the conditions can quickly get dangerous and put a player or fan into heat stroke.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Triple digit temperatures forced many high schools and even the Tennessee Titans to take precautions to keep football fans cool at games on Friday night.
It was the first home game for the Titans at Nissan Stadium and the heat kept many fans from tailgating. Noel Zoeller said the parking lot he uses is normally full at least three hours before a game, but there were only a handful of cars there as he fired up the fryer.
“It is definitely brutal today, so we wanted to take as many precautions as possible,” Zoeller said. “We’re drinking tons of water and a few adult beverages.”
He set up a tent to provide a cooler place for his dad to sit next to a fan and kept cool towels in a cooler full of ice. They even took a couple of breaks in the car with the A/C on with the extreme heat.
“If we get too hot, we will just head into the stadium a little early and take cover in some shade,” Zoeller said. “I figure I am going to sweat out most of the calories from the beer. At least, that’s my plan.”
Doctors are hoping people take these high temperatures very seriously. Dr. Alex Diamond, director of Vanderbilt’s Youth Health Center, said the conditions can quickly get dangerous and put a player or fan into heat stroke.
“That is an emergency,” Diamond said. “That is life threatening, so you have to be able to recognize it promptly and respond promptly. The things that you look for are headache, dizziness, loss of balance, but the big thing is a change in mental status. If that athlete is confused or combative or just not acting themselves in temperature like this, you have to assume it’s a heat stroke and respond emergently.”
He said Vanderbilt athletic trainers working at Metro and Wilson County high school football games pay extra close attention when it gets this hot. Several games even pushed back their start times after being advised it was not safe to play in the hottest temperatures of the day.
Diamond said people should take at least 15 to 20 gulps of water every half hour when out in the hot weather. Athletes need to hydrate for up to a week before playing a game to make sure they don’t get dehydrated.
Drinking alcohol can also speed up dehydration, Diamond said. He wants anyone drinking to also ramp up their fluid intake with sports drinks to prevent them from a medical emergency.
“I absolutely want people to seek shelter, seek shade, cool themselves off, if you can give yourself a break from the sun that is important as well,” Diamond said about avoiding heat stroke. “If you don’t have access to a cold tub, you want to put ice, ice water, cold towels and just constantly change them over and over and over again across that athlete.”
The Titans turned first aid stations throughout Nissan Stadium into cooling stations for fans. They also set up misting fans and recommended people wear loose fitting clothes.
Fans are allowed to bring empty, clear, soft-sided water bottles into the stadium for refilling at several filling stations. Free cups of water and ice were also available at permanent concession stands.
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