ST. LOUIS – In this heat, days start warm and get hot fast. The key is not just the heat, it’s also the dew point (the temperature at which water vapor condenses). The higher the dew point, the higher the humidity.
The heat index utilizes temperature and dew point to determine how hot the body perceives the environment. The body cools itself by the evaporation of sweat. But moist air will not allow evaporation as easily as dry air, so the body will feel hotter on days with higher dew point values. As the temperatures drop into the evening, the heat index drops as well.
This is why so many schools move outdoor sports practices to early morning or later in the evening.
“Activity modification really going to be key on a day like today,” said Katie Smith, outreach manager for SSM Health Sports Medicine. “For people like football players, we’re not going to want helmet, no pads on days like today. So, their bodies have an opportunity to cool themselves.”
Even with the start of football season coming Friday, safety is still the top priority.
“Today’s a good day for a walk-through practice if we’re going to be outside, max of about an hour outside. We typically recommend with humidity of this time that we’re taking at least two breaks an hour for water breaks. Just give our bodies an opportunity to rehydrate,” says Smith.
Younger kids fresh back to school may be looking forward to those recess breaks. Parents, make sure you are dressing kids in light-colored shorts and tees, and don’t forget the water.
“Making sure we’re rehydrating. That’s a big thing this year, making sure we’re sending kids with water bottles. Making sure they have an opportunity to refill those water bottles. Keeping them at their desks.”
And don’t forget the littlest kids. This is a good week to brainstorm indoor crafts and games.
“I have two little ones and this is not a good playground week unless you are in the shade or going super early. This is definitely an indoor activity week,” Smith said.