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Heat and hydration in hot weather


With the beginning of a new year for high school sports just a week away, members of the Michigan High School Athletic Association have been preparing to follow a new model policy for hot weather activity, guided by a new publication and a rules meeting emphasis on heat and hydration.

The MHSAA Representative Council adopted a Model Policy for Managing Heat & Humidity earlier this year, a plan many schools have since adopted at the local level. The plan directs schools to begin monitoring the heat index at the activity site once the air temperature reaches 80 degrees, and provides recommendations when the heat index reaches certain points, including ceasing activities when it rises above 104 degrees.

The model policy is outlined in a number of places, including a new publication called Heat Ways, which is available for download from the MHSAA Website.  Heat Ways not only provides the model policy, but addresses the need for proper acclimatization in hot weather.

The topic of heat-related injuries receives a lot of attention at this time of year, especially when deaths at the professional, collegiate and interscholastic levels of sport occur, and especially since they are preventable in most cases with the proper precautions. In football, data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows that 41 high school players have died from heat stroke between 1995 and 2012.

In addition to the information now contained in Heat Ways, the Association is making dealing with heat, hydration and acclimatization the topic for its required pre-season rules meetings for coaches and officials. The 15-minute online presentation spends a fair amount of time talking about the need for good hydration in sports, regardless of the activity or time of year.

“We know now more than we ever have about when the risk is high and who is most at risk, and we’re fortunate to be able to communicate that information better than ever before to administrators, coaches, athletes and parent,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “Heat stroke is almost always preventable, and we encourage everyone to avail themselves of the information on our website.”

Roberts added that the first days of formal practices in hot weather should be more for heat acclimatization than the conditioning of athletes, and that practices in such conditions need planning to become longer and more strenuous over a gradual progression of time.

“Then, schools need to be vigilant about providing water during practices, making sure that youngsters are partaking of water and educating their teams about the need for good hydration practices away from the practice and competition fields,” Roberts said.


Excerpts from the new policy:


All Sports 

Provide ample amounts of water. This means that water should always be available and athletes should be able to take in as much water as they desire.

Optional water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration.

Ice-down towels for cooling.

Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.


All Sports 

Provide ample amounts of water. This means that water should always be available and athletes should be able to take in as much water as they desire.

Optional water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration.

Ice-down towels for cooling.

Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.

Contact sports and activities with additional equipment: 

Helmets and other possible equipment removed while not involved in contact.

Reduce time of outside activity. Consider postponing practice to later in the day.

Recheck temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index.


All Sports 

Provide ample amounts of water. This means that water should always be available and athletes should be able to take in as much water as they desire.

Mandatory water breaks every 30 minutes for 10 minutes in duration.

Ice-down towels for cooling.

Watch/monitor athletes carefully for necessary action.

Alter uniform by removing items if possible.

Allow for changes to dry t-shirts and shorts.

Reduce time of outside activity as well as indoor activity if air conditioning is unavailable.

Postpone practice to later in the day.

Contact sports and activities with additional equipment: 

Helmets and other possible equipment removed if not involved in contact or necessary for safety. If necessary for safety, suspend activity.

Recheck temperature and humidity every 30 minutes to monitor for increased Heat Index.


All sports

Stop all outside activity in practice and/or play, and stop all inside activity if air conditioning is una-vailable.

Note: When the temperature is below 80 there is no combination of heat and humidity that will result in need to curtail activity.



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Stay safe as temperatures rise

From the American Red Cross


Summer is here, brining with it dangerous, excessive heat. The American Red Cross has steps people can follow to stay safe as the temperatures soar.

“Excessive heat can be deadly; it has caused more deaths in recent years than all other weather events,” said Kelly Hudson, Regional Communications Officer for the Red Cross of West Michigan. “We want everyone to stay safe during the hot weather and share important tips for when the weather is hot and humid.

NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN THE CAR. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

*Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

*Avoid extreme temperature changes.

*Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

*Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

*Postpone outdoor games and activities.

*Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

*Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

*Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

*If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, people can visit redcross.org, download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist, or download the free Red Cross First Aid. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. People can learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.


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How to protect your pet from the heat

(ARA) – When the weather warms and the heat arrives, it seems everyone has a reason to smile. Whether you prefer to cool off with a dip in the pool or with a tall cool drink in the shade, we all have ways to beat the heat. But what about your dog? Pets can suffer from heat just like people.
There are steps you can take to help ensure your dog doesn’t overheat in hot weather. Dawn Bolka is a registered veterinary technologist (RVT) and full time veterinary technology instructor at Brown Mackie College – Michigan City. She offers insight into keeping your dog safe during the hot months.

“A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 degrees, and sometimes up to 102.5 degrees,” Bolka says. “Match this base with rising temperatures, and a pet can get hot quickly.” Fortunately, your pet has two ways of cooling down. “Panting through the mouth is a form of sweating. Dogs also sweat through the bottoms of their feet,” she continues.

With a little knowledge and a lot of common sense, you can help ensure your dog safely enjoys outdoor summer activities and sunny weather.

One of the first things Bolka recommends doing for your pet is take time to brush out the undercoat during the spring shed. Dogs shed twice a year – once in the spring to get rid of the winter coat, and once in the fall to lose the summer coat. “Most dogs like the brush. Removing the thicker winter coat helps to keep your dog cooler,” says Bolka.

Two of the most important things you can give your dog in the summer are water and shade. “Never leave a dog out in the sun – even in the backyard – without an ample supply of drinking water,” Bolka continues. “A shady area should be within easy reach, providing the dog with a place to get out of the heat. When given the options of both sun and shade, dogs know when to take them.”

Another way to protect your dog from summer heat is to be aware of the ground temperature. “Pavement can get hot enough to fry an egg,” says Bolka. “Taking a dog out for a mid-day walk is a common mistake dog owners make, and it can result in burnt pads. It’s best not to walk or run your animal in the heat of the day.” Much like pavement, sand at the beach gets hot. Bolka advises giving your dog access to a grassy area, or protecting the dog’s feet with booties. Pool decks are another culprit to consider. Bolka’s rule of thumb is: If it burns your feet, it will burn your dog’s feet.

It is not a good idea to shave a dog during hot weather. “A dog’s summer coat actually insulates the skin, offering protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays,” says Bolka. However, it is possible for a dog to experience sunburn. “If your dog has a black nose, the nose is protected from sunburn,” she continues. “A pink nose is more susceptible to UV rays. You will sometimes see a dog bury his nose in dirt, caking mud on it for protection. As long as dogs have shade and water, they tend to do well.”

Another bad idea is to leave your dog in a car on a hot day, even with the windows cracked. The American Veterinary Medical Association, reports that temperatures in a car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and 30 degrees in half an hour. “Heat builds up fast inside a sitting car,” Bolka says. “A dog can suffer heat exhaustion in just 20 minutes.”

Heat exhaustion is defined by DogChannel.com as a life-threatening condition that “occurs when a dog’s respiratory tract cannot evacuate heat quickly enough.” Signs that a dog is in heat distress include excessive panting, thick saliva, dark red gums, and non-responsiveness. “A dog experiencing any of these symptoms should be taken to a veterinarian immediately,” Bolka says. “You can offer water, and place wet washcloths on the dog, especially around the head and paw pads.” The Indiana Veterinary Medical Association cautions dog owners not to use ice or extremely cold water on a dog with symptoms of heat exhaustion. A veterinarian can run tests to find out if any internal damage has occurred.

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Who turned up the heat?


Sunshiny days and summer-like temperatures the last two weeks have marred any memory of the winter that never really arrived. With temps in the 70s and 80s, Michigan has been warmer than many of the southern and western states, including Florida, Arizona and Hawaii. WOOD-TV8 said that the 87-degree reading in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, made it the warmest day ever in March in G.R. The city is now 16.2 degrees warmer than average for March.

All the sunshine is also bringing out the flowers. Craig Owens, of Cedar Springs, and Christine Solomon, also of Cedar Springs shared some lovely flowers from their yard, and Tyler Felty, a Cedar Springs grad going to school at Ferris in Big Rapids, sent us some of the flowers he’s seeing around campus as well. Thanks so much!


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Trying to beat the heat

The Alblas family, of Solon Township, got creative trying to beat the heat Wednesday. Alex, 11, pours water down on top of Dominique, 9, and Isaac, age 7.

By Judy Reed

It’s the talk of town—no matter where you go, people are talking about how hot it is. We’ve been under an excessive heat warning since Tuesday, and it’s expected to last into Friday. By Tuesday, there were no air conditioners left within a 100-mile radius. On Wednesday, it reached about 92 degrees with a heat index of 107, according to a weather station in Cedar Springs. The city of Grand Rapids was probably in the mid-90s.

So what have you been doing to beat the heat? Some of the answers on our facebook page included chillin’ in the air conditioning, drinking ice water, eating ice cream and enjoying the pool.

Don’t forget to check on the elderly, young children and pets. All are more susceptible to dehydration. Move them to an air-conditioned location, spray them down or have them take a cool shower or bath, and help them remember to drink plenty of non-caffeinated, non-sugary liquids.

According to the Center for Disease Control, everyone should drink more fluids during the heat regardless of activity level; don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. And avoid very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps.

Stay indoors, and if at all possible, in air conditioning. If you don’t have it, go to the store, public library, movie theatre or somewhere that has air conditioning for a few hours.

If you only have fans, take a cool shower or bath.

And NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

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Kent County Credit Union
Ray Winnie


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