Cold Weather Protocol

Updated Tuesday December 22, 2015 by Cheryl Erickson.

Cold weather is defined as any temperature that can negatively affect the body’s regulatory system.  These do not have to be freezing temperatures.  The following temperature guidelines have been established for Optimist Club of Arlington practices and games.

1. Wind Chill Factor Between 32-35 Degrees With Rain x 45 minutes outdoor exposure.

2. Wind Chill Factor 32 Degrees or Below With Rain x All practices will be inside. x No outside exposure.

3. Wind Chill Factor Between 25-32 Degrees (Dry) x 45 minutes of total exposure to chill factor.

4. Temperature Under 32 and/ or Wind Chill Factor Under 25 Degrees x No outside practices. x All work must be inside.  
 

Significance:

Although excessive and prolonged exposure to cold may be an infrequent problem in high school athletics, the prevention, recognition and management of cold-related conditions are still an important consideration for coaches, administrators and athletic trainers. The human body’s mechanisms of heat retention are significantly less efficient than our ability to dissipate heat. Epidemiological research suggests that even in otherwise innocuous environmental conditions, hypothermia can occur. During the day, the temperature may be moderate and the sun shining, but as the sun sets and the temperature begins to fall, when coupled with conditions of exhaustion, dehydration and wet clothing associated with physical activity, the risk of cold-related pathology can increase. 

Understanding the mechanisms of heat retention and production are essential to the prevention and management of cold-related illnesses and injuries: 

  • Vasoconstriction - Decreases blood flow to the periphery to prevent loss of body heat.
  • Shivering - While involuntary shivering generates heat through increased muscle activity, it may also hinder an athlete's sport performance and ability to perform behavioral tasks to aid in heat retention.
  • Activity increase - Increases heat production through a general increase in metabolic activity. Quick bouts of intense activity can generate incredible amounts of heat.
  • Behavioral responses - Adjusting the number and type of clothing layers will result in heat regulation by controlling the amount of heat lost by the body.