School marching bands on beat with the heat
by Mark Andrews
Jul 21, 2011 | 3289 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daune Davis found a damp cloth under his hat made the Wednesday’s heat somewhat bearable for the Woodland band member. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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As a heat wave makes its way east and temperatures and humidity rise, area high school marching bands prepare for the upcoming school year. Both Bartow and Cartersville school systems have heat policies outlined on their websites and local band directors are making sure they are enforced.

"We work very closely with our principals and athletic directors and our band directors on making sure our kids our well hydrated," said Bartow County Superintendent John Harper. "It's important to provide good instruction for [students] but it's also vitally important we don't get anybody overheated."

Both Cartersville High School and Woodland High School are currently holding two-week camps with outdoor activities ending before noon.

"While [students] are outside, we go 30 to 45 minutes at the most, depending on what time it is, before we give them a break," said CHS band director David Snipes. "We have all kinds of bottled water that the parents bring me; we ice them down and [students] have plenty of access to [the water]."

Snipes said students also have the opportunity to purchase items from the Kona Ice truck and have access to shade. He said some upperclassmen have been trained to identify signs of heat-related illnesses and that the band program stays current with weather conditions.

"We're always keeping an eye on the weather and the heat index," Snipes said. "We even have technology here at the school that is used at the front office ... if it's too hot, we never go outside."

He said parents and students were instructed before the camps began on ways to prepare for the heat.

"Usually what we've told parents is to make the kids get outside," Snipes said. "Getting acclimated to the heat takes a while."

Eric Willoughby, WHS band director, said dealing with this summer's heat is business as usual. He said students have plenty of access to water and cool rags.

"We're not doing anything different this year than any of the past years," Willoughby said. "We have at least five or more chaperones on site at any given rehearsal, and we have on average 8 to 10 5-gallon jugs of ice water right next to the field we're practicing at ... and those are used to refill the kids' [personal] water bottles."

He also said parents and students are advised before the camps began on ways to help with a safe camp experience, ranging from how to identify heat-related illnesses to what beverages should be consumed outside of camp.

"We basically ban all energy drinks during the two weeks and ask them to stay away from the caffeine," Willoughby said.

The Georgia Department of Public Health recommends the following when dealing with high heat and humidity:

* Stay hydrated. When working outside, drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty, and take rest breaks in the shade. Avoid alcoholic beverages or those containing caffeine as they cause dehydration.

* Stay cool indoors. The best way to beat the heat is to stay in an air conditioned area. Finding a place to cool down, at least temporarily, can provide some relief and allow a person's body to recover from higher temperatures. If you don't have an air conditioner, go to a shopping mall or public building for a few hours.

* Avoid sun exposure. Reduce exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when ultraviolet rays are strongest, and keep physical activities to a minimum during that time.

* Use a buddy system. Check on your friends, family, and the elderly. Monitor elderly neighbors and relatives often to watch for signs of heat-related stress. The elderly population and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer from extreme and prolonged exposure to heat.