Local schools, youth sports leagues take precautions ahead of heat wave

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Prior to games and practices this week, local youth sports clubs are communicating with families about the concerns that come with excessive heat.

Local schools, including Buffalo, Williamsville, Lockport and Amherst, have announced plans to have half days this week so students aren’t in classrooms, which can be steamy this time of year with a lack of ventilation and air conditioning.

At West Hertel Academy in Buffalo and at schools across the district, students in lower grade levels were dismissed early Monday in waves.

Early dismissal will happen throughout the week in Buffalo and other districts due to the heat wave that’s expected to hit. High school students are still expected to attend school to take Regents exams.

Dangerous heat this week; air quality alert in place

“Safety is number one and we need to make sure that it’s safe for the players to play,” said John Kramer, the lead assignor of the Buffalo and Western New York Junior Soccer League. “We want to make sure that they’re hydrated and we want to make sure that there aren’t any incidents of players going down or becoming ill.”

That’s the mentality local youth sports leagues have this week as thousands of children are expected to hit playing surfaces for practices and games. Water breaks will be required at local soccer games — anyone who does not allow a water break will be punished.

Kramer, a top local soccer administrator, said a potential penalty would be a one-game ban. Teams are allowed to cancel their games and have them rescheduled, he said. One game that was scheduled to be played Monday on turf at Dunkirk High has already been cancelled.

On baseball and softball diamonds, administrators are monitoring the heat index. Anything at or above 105 degrees means games and practices have to be cancelled.

“We sent out an email last night, saying, ‘Hey, we know it’s coming, we are following the heat index, we’re taking the necessary precautions and we will recommend that you bring as much water,'” Matthew Aldridge, president of the Lake Shore Little League, said. “‘We’re telling our coaches, ‘Hey, have a cooler full of ice if you need it if you need to bring towels that have ice in there as well.'”

Local games can be shortened with water breaks given. Local sports officials said there were some learning lessons in rescheduling games from last summer’s wildfire smoke situation in Canada, which resulted in numerous games being postponed.

“It is a difficulty, we like to try to get all of our games in by early August and there are some days where there are already a large number of games scheduled,” Kramer said.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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