WEST VIRGINIA (WOWK) – While teams are gearing up for the start of football season in the Mountain State, coaches and athletic trainers are also keeping an eye on the heat.

“Tomorrow there’s no avoiding it, we have our first game,” said Eddie Smolder, Winfield High School Football Head Coach. “So, we’re going to take more breaks, drink more water, make sure the kids are hydrated and ice bathing after practice. So, we’ll be prepared for it.”

While schools such as Herbert Hoover High School and Scott High School are set to play on Friday, others like the Winfield Generals will take on the Hurricane Redskins Thursday night.

However, with an excessive heat watch underway, Smolder said the teams are taking precautions to make sure the athletes are safe.

“Officials are going to give them more timeouts than they normally would, official timeouts, and get more water breaks,” Smolder said. “We’ll have ice tubs on the sidelines, ice, water cold towels, things like that.”

To make sure it’s safe to practice, all West Virginia teams are required to check the conditions before taking the field. They use a handheld weather station provided by the state.

The device measures temperature, humidity and wind. Readings fall on a color scale: green, yellow, orange, red and black.

“At the red level is when we start taking off pads they usually go helmets only that’s when conditioning is usually eliminated from practice,” said Stephanie Clark, Herbert Hoover High School Athletic Director. “It’s usually a short practice with lots of water breaks and when we get to the black level that’s when there’s no outdoor activities.”

Clark recommends athletes focus on hydration, nutrition and rest when practicing in the heat. She said if you aren’t feeling well, tell somebody, don’t push through it.