Spectators, medical teams battle heat at Friday night games

Nick Wildhaber had two heat sources to deal with Friday evening: his custom-built barbecue grill and this week's heat wave.

Wildhaber told KRCG 13 he took a cue from football players like his son and started hydrating the night before Friday's game pitting Helias against Harrisonville.

"They're hydrating constantly, and so we kind of picked it up and hydrate 24 hours in advance," he said.

Down the street from Wildhaber, Amy Frank was making sure Helias' cheerleaders, including her daughter, stayed hydrated as well. Frank noted while the cheerleaders lacked the heavy equipment football players carry, they had to be able to perform their routines in the heat, with the sun shining directly down on them.

Pat Forbis, the sports medicine clinical coordinator at St. Mary's Health Center, said the key to keeping players from suffering heatstroke is to keep them hydrated before and during their activity. He said the amount of water each player should drink varies, but a good rule of thumb is to drink 12 ounces of water an hour beforehand, then another 10 ounces 30 minutes prior and another 7 ounces 15 minutes before activity starts. Forbis also said players who have had a couple weeks to get used to how their equipment behaves in the heat are less vulnerable to heat-induced problems.

If a player does develop heatstroke, Forbis said personnel would put the player in a tub full of water at roughly 50 degrees. He said the player would remain there until his core body temperature fell below 100 degrees, at which point he would be transported to a hospital. Forbis noted that the goal is to keep the victim's internal organs from essentially cooking inside the body and explained immersion in cold water would not send the victim into shock.

Neither Wilhaber nor Frank expressed any serious concern about their children on their respective teams. Both said as long as their children stayed hydrated at Friday night's game, there shouldn't be any problems.