SLIDELL, La. - St. Tammany is now Louisiana's first parish with a written policy to protect student athletes against the heat.
The "Extreme Heat and Hydration Policy" is meant as a guideline for coaches, according to parish-wide Athletic Director Larry Favre.
"You have to acclimate athletes to the heat," Favre said, both at the beginning of the summer and at the beginning of each practice, and he said, lots of water should be the norm.
"Hydration before you ever get to the practice field," Favre added, "during the practice, and of course, after the practice."
The new policy also requires trainers for every high school and junior high team to continually monitor the heat index.
If the heat index is under 90 degrees, coaches have a "Green Flag," with optional water breaks every 15-20 minutes.
A heat index from 90 to 99 degrees brings a "Yellow Flag," and the water breaks are mandatory every 15-20 minutes.
When the heat index is between 100 and 109 degrees, the "Red Flag" comes out, and more precautions are added.
Any heat index over 110 means a "Black Flag," and outdoor practices are prohibited.
"If you get to 110 or higher, you have to shut everything down," Favre said, "and you can't come on the field until that reading comes below 110."
"I think it's a smart thing to do," Salmen Head Football Coach Jerry Leonard said during Thursday afternoon's practice. "110, we're talking about some pretty extreme temperatures. And to be honest with you, we haven't hit 110."
The heat index on the practice field Thursday ranged between 103 and 106 degrees, although the guys on the Salmen High team said, it wasn't a problem.
"It really hasn't been hot," Junior Linebacker Sterling Doss said. "The same as it's always been, really, to me. No difference really."
Coach Leonard said he agreed with the new written policy, but added, he didn't find this summer to be unusual.
"To be honest with you," Coach Leonard said, "I don't find this summer any different than any other summer."