High school football teams take extra hydration precautions on field

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A tragedy on the practice field is causing football teams across the country to take major precautions when it comes to protecting their players.

As local high schools and colleges gear up for the season, there’s a renewed emphasis on player safety in the sun.

Nineteen-year-old Jordan McNair, a University of Maryland football player, showed signs of exhaustion during practice, late last May.

He died two weeks later.

“Anytime you have a preventable illness or death, it’s tragic,” said Dr. Fernando Mendoza with Baptist Children’s Hospital.

Mendoza said in addition to recognizing warning signs like cramping, student athletes should prepare properly.

Here in South Florida, schools like Braddock High in Kendall are staying ahead of the game.

“The first two days are helmets only, the next three days are half shelves and after that they can go full pads,” said a coach. “We also have protocol where they are taking breaks every half hour for five minutes in this shaded area with water.”

Braddock and other schools across the state know the importance of beating the heat.

“Making sure you’re well hydrated well before you physical activity,” Mendoza said. “The night before, the morning of is typically the best approach.”

Braddock High is not just following state guidelines but setting some of their own with a cooling station on standby at all times, just in case.

So far, they’ve never had to use it thanks in part to their commitment to the kids and their parents.

“If there’s a kid that seems like he might be having an issue, we pull him out right away,” the coach said. “It’s not an if, and or but. We pull them out, bring them over here, make sure everything is OK with them and let them participate if it’s safe. If not, we’ll take them inside and go through protocol.”

Every high school football coach has to go through an annual course and pass a test on heat illness and player safety.

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