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High school football practice kicks off despite heat

Arkansas and the rest of the southern United States are in an intense heat wave right now. Despite the heat, high school football teams around the state are starting practice for the 2010 season.
Arkansas and the rest of the southern United States are in an intense heat wave right now. Despite the heat, high school football teams around the state are starting practice for the 2010 season.

High school football practice kicked off in Arkansas on Monday with players everywhere tackling a wicked combination of heat and humidity.

As temperatures soar, so does the risk of heat related sports injuries. Doctors say its imperative athletes and their coaches take all precautions.

"Heat related illness is very rare until football season starts and then all of a sudden we begin to see it," says Doctor Jerry Byrum.

Doctor Jerry Byrum is not only a Little Rock Pediatrician, he's also dad to 16-year old Luke, a linebacker for Arkansas Baptist High School. Luke's team and his coaches showed up for their first practice of the season at War Memorial, a stadium lit by the scorching summer sun.

"Its tough on them right now. We started off excited but we're starting to slow down and you can start seeing the efforts of the heat out here," says Arkansas Baptist Coach Helm.

Doctor Byrum says to prevent heat-related injury, water is the key, drinking it and wearing it.

"I tell a lot of kids if you get really hot, take a water and pour it over your head," says Dr. Byrum.

Doctor Byrum also says coaches and parents should recognize the warning signs of heat related sports injuries, such as headache, cramping, and an inability to sweat. He also suggests coaches weigh players before and after practice to track fluid loss so it can be replaced.

"Many coaches will push their kids past exhaustion and its hard to tell what is physical exhaustion and what is heat, so err on the side of safety," says Dr. Byrum.

These tips can help coaches survive what looks to be a brutal month of practice. And, they can help athletes survive a first tough opponent--mother nature.

Coaches seem to be doing very well with taking precautions. FOX16 spoke to officials at MEMS and there have been no reports of any heat-related sports injury due to practicing in these conditions.
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