Preventing Heat Exhaustion during football games

Fighting early-evening temperatures at Sam Houston State University football has been a forefront of concern for fans, city officials and university officials for the past couple of years.

After multiple cases of fans passing out from heat exhaustion occurred during the last two seasons, SHSU football has pushed back kickoff times for evening home games from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., in an effort to reduce heat exhaustion among fans.

However, the same procedures are still in place in case any emergencies arise, according to Greg Hinze, associate director of athletics for compliance and operations.

Two first aid stations are available, one on each concourse, which feature first aid supplies as well as water for anyone in need, as determined by the onsite EMT personnel. Fans also have access to a cooling area which features a misting station on the east concourse, as well as the various tents handing out water bottles during tailgating.

The 2014 SHSU football season features five home games, two of which are at 6:30 p.m., with the remaining home games kicking off at 3 p.m.

“We cannot ensure fans won’t pass out from the heat or from any other reason,” Hinze said. “Most of the responsibility lies with the individuals to properly hydrate themselves, with water or similar beverages, and have adequate nutrition prior to attending the game.”

University Police Chief Kevin Morris agrees with Hinze.

“The key is not to fill up on beer or soda – they dehydrate you,” Morris said. “Drink plenty of water…My opinion is the responsibility falls to the individual, not the stadium staff.”

Hinze said he wants fans to tailgate and be included in the pre-game activities but also encourages fans to be “responsible and smart while doing so.”