Beat the heat, and humidity, at band camp

A heat wave in the West has led to more than an increase in wildfires: it has forced students gearing up for marching band this fall to find creative ways to keep cool, not just in the West and Southwest but across the country.

In Jasper, Alabama, where the dew point peaked at 75°F for the week of July 30, with an average dew point of 69°F, a few students got sick at band camp due to the heat, reports the Daily Mountain Eagle, citing Oakman High School band director Casey Woods. Mr Woods decided to hold band camp in the evenings to try to keep clear of the high temps, but that strategy didn’t work for a few students, who returned to practice after rehydrating.

“Last week was a little more brutal than this week has been, because of the humidity,” Woods said. “We do our best to keep them hydrated, and if they get to feeling bad we send them in with a partner, so they’re not by themselves, in case they were to get sick.”

“One of the things we do at Dora to try to cope with the heat is we’ve adjusted our rehearsal time,” the paper quoted band director Jeremy McFall at Dora High School as saying. “Instead of the traditional 8 AM to 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we actually start at 1 PM, and we stay inside until after our dinner break at 5:30. Then we go outside when the sun has started to set, and it’s not quite as hot during that time of the schedule.”

He added, “We’ve got an asphalt parking lot for a practice field. … With the sun reflecting off that asphalt, the asphalt temperatures get pretty hot, anywhere between 125 and 140 degrees. That’s just the surface of the asphalt. That’s one reason we avoid being outside until after the sun is starting to set.”

The heat rising off an asphalt parking lot out here in Arizona, where I have been for a little more than a month working on various projects, reminds me of a fire oven being used for cooking a pizza on a stone.

General advice includes:

  1. If possible, avoid the heat with air-conditioning
  2. Eat right, including a healthy meal before practice
  3. Drink plenty of water or Gatorade, etc.
  4. Avoid sugary drinks (they dehydrate you)
  5. Wear breathable clothing
  6. Use sunscreen

Dew points during the week of July 30

The dew point predicts your body’s ability to cool off by sweating, the so-called “evaporative cooling.” The higher the dew point (and the closer it is to the air temperature), the more difficult it is for your body to cool off normally, i.e., by sweating.

  • Indianapolis, Ind. — max 68°F, average 61°F
  • Peoria, Ill. — max 70°F, average 61°F
  • Mesa, Ariz. — max 73°F, average 66°F

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.