MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Student-athletes have been getting up early this week with temperatures reaching heat indexes of 100 degrees and above.
Some schools have been adjusting outdoor sports practices to make it safer for athletes--which means starting practice as early as 6 a.m.
Schools like Lakeland and Arlington have moved the practices up with the goal to get them done before the hottest part of the day.
Heat index values have reached over 100 all week and are expected to reach between 100 and 109 Thursday. That is well within the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's guidelines for high heat indexes.
The guidelines state activity must be modified when the heat index is between 95 and 104, and there should be no activity if the heat index reaches 104 degrees.
“As we're going through the day, we're staying hydrated,” Arlington High School Football player Julian Maxwell said.
As the sun rises, so does the Arlington Football Team. All summer the team has started practice between 6-7 a.m. Coaches say it frees up players who have jobs by 9:30 in the morning, and it helps them avoid the hottest parts of the day.
“Typically, in the morning, although it's humid, it's not typically as hot,” Arlington Head Football Coach Adam Sykes said.
By 7:30 Thursday morning the heat index was pushing 80 degrees.
“We have water wherever we go, [players] get breaks whenever they need it,” Sykes said.
The likelihood many teams could have a full outdoor practice got slimmer as the day went on Thursday at least for those who follow state guidelines like Arlington and Shelby County Schools.
Along with ending outdoor practices when the heat index is above 104 degrees, the guidelines also say modifications need to be made when the heat index is between 95 and 104. Once the heat index reaches 95 it needs to be checked every 30 minutes.
“Our athletic trainer carries a temp watch with her,” Sykes said. “She knows all the rules just like we do.”
While the alarms are going off early, many players are happy to get the toughest part of their day over with early.
“I get to go home, get in the shower and get in to bed,” Arlington High School Football player Cyrus Sin-Berry said.
Athletes are also to be closely monitored for any signs of heat-related illnesses.