For the first time this school year, Howard County Schools canceled all outdoor athletic activities due to heat.
The National Weather Service reported the temperature at 2:20 was 93 degrees, with a heat index of 97.
Too risky for athletes--especially football players in full pads, on turf fields like the one at Atholton High School which was padlocked and empty after the email went out announcing the cancellations.
“When there are heat issues, turf fields can be ten degrees higher than grass one. I've been around turf fields and actually seen heat radiating off the fields," John Dingell, Director of Recreational Programs for the Thunder Soccer Club says.
Even though the county called off practices and games due to the heat, most rec leagues didn't which was a real concern for parents who started emailing their coaches as soon as they got the county's email alert.
“I think about it all the time for her, and myself." Rebecca Handa said while watching her daughter at practice with the Thunder's team for six to eight year olds.
Even though they don't have to follow the county's mandates, Dingell says when it comes to kids and the heat, you can never be too careful, so they did.
The Thunder Soccer teams practiced in the shade where possible, and implemented the three to one work to rest rule.
"So for every 15 minutes the players are on the field.. they get a five minute break in the shade, to hydrate, cool the back of the necks, and cool the forehead," Dingell says.
Ryan Pachoca , who brought Gatorade and a bottle that sprayed cool water to his daughter's practice, thinks the added emphasis on preventing heat related illnesses in Howard County Schools is a good thing for kids who play after school too.
"I'm glad they're thinking about, because until I got that email, I wasn't thinking about," he says. “But it was a wakeup call, so I'm here, and if she's in a heat distress situation, I'll pull her myself."
Since most heat related illnesses are preventable, the Maryland Department of Education has implemented a pre-season heat acclimation policy for athletes--signed into law by the Governor.
Since the season’s now underway, this heat related cancellation in Howard County is a clear sign, keeping kids safe in the heat will be a priority year round.