Omaha schools working to keep student-athletes safe in the heat

High schools across the Omaha metro are taking extra measures to ensure the safety of their student-athletes amid an intense heat wave.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 4:35 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - “Heat illness is 100% preventable,” said Ron Higdon, assistant director for the Nebraska School Activities Association, or NSAA.

The organization, which governs more than 300 high schools across the state, gave each school a wet bulb globe thermometer.

“It’s a heat stress tracker,” said Higdon.

The $500 tool uses five factors to measure the effect of this weather on the human body, whereas the heat index just uses two factors: temperature and humidity.

“It takes wind speed. It takes ambient temperature, relative humidity, sun angle, and cloud cover,” Higdon said.

Coaches use all that information to decide how to hold practice based on certain parameters.

Readings in the orange suggest less equipment and more rest. Readings in the red prohibit strenuous exercise like conditioning. Black means no outdoor activities. High school coaches part of the NSAA are also required every three years to participate in heat-related training.

6 First Alert meteorologist Jade Steffens said at night, it still feels hot.

“Unusually high summertime temperatures for the nighttime are warming twice as much as the daytime temperatures,” Steffens said.

That’s why the NSAA has put these precautions in place.

“When the sun goes down that temperature might not go down so much but your reading goes down because the sun has a huge impact on your WGBT reading,” said Higdon.

Staying out of the sun is the top priority.

“If you take away the sunlight it does cool us down about 10, 15 degrees, so if they need to find the time to practice outside, that is the best option,” said Steffens. “But it is still really hard to cool down with all that humidity in the air.”

Omaha school officials say the inside of some of their buildings are also feeling the stress of the heat and that they’re working around the clock to keep their cooling systems running.