HCS increase heat safety regulations, gate security for football season

HCS increase heat safety regulations, gate security for football season
The wet bulb globe thermometer helps determine if the field is safe to play on. (Source: WMBF News)
The wet bulb globe thermometer helps determine if the field is safe to play on. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It was a fun night of football at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium on Friday, but players and coaches aren't the only ones putting in the work this season.

This year Horry County Schools are implementing several new safety measures for teams on the field and for spectators at the gates.

Athletic directors and trainers across the school district will be working together to make sure players aren't at risk from the heat on the field.

"Our goal is to be as safe as possible and that the athletes are safe when they're out here and that we're not keeping them out too long in the heat and humidity," said Andrea Owens.

Owens has been an athletic trainer with Myrtle Beach High School for 10 seasons. Heat, she said, is one of the most dangerous opponents this time of year.

New technology this season in the form of wet bulb globe thermometers lets Owens gauge just how safe the field is for practice and game day.

"It takes into account ambient temperature, radiant temperature, humidity and wind to give us this number. Depending on the number we get will determine what type of activities can take place outside," said Owens.

Changes are also happening at the gates. Starting Aug. 16, Horry County Schools will implement a clear bag policy for the whole football season.

"For the last eight years we have had a security metal detector policy, which does slow at the entry process," said John Cahill, athletic director at Myrtle Beach High School.

Cahill also believes the bags will speed up the security process at games during security checks.

With the rising heat both on and off the field, Owens and Cahill said student safety is always at the top of their list during every sporting event, from cheerleading, marching band and fans simply watching the game.

"Hydration. People wait till they get here to drink water because they're not hot then, but once you're thirsty you are actually already dehydrated," said Owens.

"Thirty years ago, we did not have the education and technology that we have today. With us knowing about the temperature and what the adverse effects could be, we are all educated now and have to make those tough decisions and the best decisions for the students," said Cahill.

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