A young football player from Omaha in Nebraska, the US, lost his life due to heatstroke earlier this month. Drake Geiger, 16, was out for his first football practice of the year when he collapsed on the ground. After a thorough examination, the doctors informed his family members that he was severely overheated and could not revive his heart.
The family members of this high schooler have started a petition in hopes of a change in heat guidelines by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA). According to his sister, the guidelines by NSAA state players can suspend practice if the heat index is 125 degrees or above. But the heat index was around 105 degrees when her brother was out for practice.
"The petition is calling on the NSAA to update its heat guidelines. The heat index guidelines say the heat index has to be 125 degrees for practice to be suspended. The heat index I believe was 105 degrees [when Drake was out for his practice]," Aaren Geiger, Drake's older sister, told 6 news.
"There needs to be a change. There have been too many injuries and deaths, and it is time to call upon them for a change," she added.
Change in Heat Guidelines
Meanwhile, the NSAA guidelines state that the players should not wear helmets or pads if the heat index is between 105 and 124 degrees. The players should only wear shirts and shorts during practice sessions. But the family members of Drake are not sure about the outfits the players wore for practice.
"When you factor in the heat of the turf, the temperature had to be well above 140 degrees [that day]. You know, that is way too hot. Coaches should probably be a little more informed and knowledgeable about keeping kids informed about hydration, and I think water on the field, within close reach, should be mandatory and cool down stations should be mandatory," Aaron said.
Over 50 young players have lost their lives due to heatstroke since 1995. Three high school players died last year during or after practice due to heat-related illnesses, according to a recent study about the annual football fatalities.
"Why are our children practicing at the hottest part of the day in the hottest part of the year in Nebraska? How many more deaths need to take place before action is taken? In Drake's name and all the innocent children lost before him, we are demanding action from the NSAA," Aaren stated in her petition on change.org.