Are you prepared for the heat?

I don't know about you, but back in January and February I was wishing for a little heat and some warmer weather to melt the snow and ice we were having. Terrible drives to work, school closings and a media circus for Super Bowl XVL were just a few of the issues we had to deal with while weathering the storms.

Like the unusual winter we braved, the summer of 2011 has gotten our attention and reminded us how hot Texas can be. With the start of the fall season at the end of a potentially record-setting summer, it is imperative that we be prepared for the heat. How do we do this? By consuming plenty of liquids, seeking shade during breaks and knowing our local association rules.

One of the most important things we can do to prepare ourselves for the heat is to consume fluids. Fluids allow us to stay mentally focused and physically fit when the heat is on. Liquids also keep us from becoming dehydrated due to extreme heat and exercise. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in.

As referees, dehydration isn't just a possibility, it's a probability. However, if properly prepared, water, Gatorade and PowerAde are just a few of the drinks that can help us stay hydrated.

In order to stay properly hydrated, we must begin hydration several days prior to the start of our games. During games (especially games lasting more than an hour), we should be consuming liquids every chance we are given. This includes, but is not limited to, quarter or halftime breaks. Once our games are over, we must complete the hydration process by continuing to drink liquids for at least 24 hours.

Have you ever noticed how much higher a temperature gauge that is sitting in the sun may read, versus one sitting in the shade? Yes…No? It has been shown that a gauge in direct sunlight can be 10 to 20 degrees higher than one sitting in the shade.

What does this mean to you? You should seek the shelter and cooler temperatures of shade as often as possible. This will help keep your body temperature lower by the loss of a little less water due to perspiration.

Last, but not least - several associations have policies in place to protect members from the heat by allowing water breaks, shorter games and, in some cases, cancelling games altogether. If you don't know if your association has such a policy in place, ask your assignor or a local league board member. Another great time to ask that question is at the referee meeting at the beginning of the season. You could be the new favorite amongst the referees by finding out whether water breaks, shorter games or canceled games may be allowed.

With Texas in the middle of a potentially record-setting heat wave, it is critically important that as referees we are prepared to withstand the heat. By consuming plenty of liquids, seeking shade and understanding our local association policies and procedures, we can protect both the players and our crew from the unforgiving Texas heat.

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of missing the snow and cooler weather right now. Have a happy and safe time on the pitch!

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