GHSA Expands Role of Wetbulbs in Summer Practices | HS Sports
We've had some rainy weather, but you know in a few days that sweltering Georgia heat will return.
Last year, the Georgia High School Association dictated that teams have a device that measures the heat and humidity in the air.
It's called a wetbulb.
This year, they amended the rules to include summer workouts.
Here's how it works and why one trainer thinks it will save lives on the football field every August and September.
As coaches drive kids on the field, there is always a person standing on the sidelines keeping an eye on the Georgia sun rays beating down on the grass. Brad Miles is an athletic trainer.
"The idea is you do not come out to practice if it's too hot," he said.
Miles helped mold the policy that has a microphone-looking device shooting out readings that immediately get documented.
"When the wetbulb temperature is 92 degrees or better, we don't even come out of the building. When it's 90-92, we make adjustments in practice. If it's 88-92, you make adjustments and so on and so on," Miles explained.
But that 92 is a formula, not just what the mercury reads.
"You have your wetbulb temperature which is showing 87.4, which is well within the safe zone," Miles demonstrated. "Then we click once the temperature of the air is 98, which is everybody knows that one, that's the total degrees when you factor those together 101-102 and then 46 percent humidity and put all those together and you come up with that number."
It's a lot of math, but Miles says it's worth the work to ensure it will save lives.
"Unfortunately, Georgia ranks top in the nation for kids that get killed," Miles said.
We called the GHSA and Executive Director Ralph Swearngin told us that in a study dating back to the 1980s, Georgia had six fatalities which was the most of any state. Not all of those happened during football practice.
But he said the numbers were disturbing enough and a motivating factor for the organization to take action.
Miles was one of the trainers that went to the University of Georgia to discuss the best plan of attack.
"We tested about ten different heat indicators and we came up with the wetbulb temp because it was the most reliable and accurate, and so the wetbulb is now the rule of thumb," he said.
This year, the GHSA said that coaches now have to take these wetbulb readings during summer voluntary practices.
It's not just football, the bylaws say wetbulbs will be used in any sport where kids spend time in hot weather.
And here is an interesting note, teams do not have to use the gauge for games.
Executive Director Ralph Swearngin says that's for a few reasons. First of all, in games you have built in rest brakes so in football a play make take ten to 12 seconds and then there is 25 seconds of rest.
Most football games happen at night and the referees call for mandatory heat timeouts.
If you're a parent and you want to see the wetbulb reports, Swearngin says they are available for your viewing, just contact the school.
And if a team doesn't comply, which they haven't had any problems with that, but if that did happen the school would face a $2,500 fine.