AVGS SEVERE WEATHER PLAY GUIDELINES
AVGS’s mission promotes fun, family softball, including a safe playing environment for all participants. Safety and Risk Management must be addressed for regularly scheduled games, practices and special events. Certain weather conditions can pose risk – proper planning assures that potential emergency situations are appropriately addressed. This document provides basic guidelines for AVGS volunteers and organizers in dealing with severe weather conditions.
Education, training and effective communication are the most important means to achieving safety for all participants. AVGS event organizers – volunteers, managers, coaches, umpires and others in a position of authority or responsibility – must ensure that general AVGS safety practices and guidelines plus those that are unique to the local community and playing facility are understood and applied whenever there is a potential for severe weather conditions.
As a volunteer organization, we recognize that participating families may have their own individual weather guidelines for their player and those are respected. However, it is requested that individual and personal decisions for their child to play or not play during certain weather conditions not be imposed on the entire team.
Some of the most common severe weather conditions are:
- Hot weather – risks of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, sunburns
- Cold weather – hypothermia
- Thunder and Lightning Storms
When temperatures and humidity rise above normal levels, the potential for risk rises. Parents, volunteers, managers, and coaches should allow for frequent water stoppages in addition to substitution stoppages. The proper and continued hydration of players and volunteers is essential starting at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled event. Sunscreen of appropriate strength should be applied frequently. Shade should be provided to participants by EZ-Ups, trees, tents or buildings. When multiple games are scheduled in a day or over several days when conducting tournaments, it is recommended that there are at least two hours between games when possible.
Risk of hypothermia, frostbite and injury from numbness are avoidable. Be aware of the dangers associated with cold weather and be prepared to delay or even terminate games to ensure proper protection of the players. Freezing rain, hail, snow, sleet or heavy rain can cause field conditions to deteriorate rapidly. Players’ loss of solid footing can cause severe injury. Check field conditions before and during games. Be prepared to stop or delay games if severe weather conditions cause the field to become unsafe for participants. Players should be permitted to wear appropriate and safe clothing (extra garments under the jersey and shorts, knit hats and gloves, etc.) to protect against cold and windy weather conditions.
Thunder and Lightning Storms
Do not wait for storm clouds to develop before considering what to do should lightning threaten. An effective plan begins LONG before any lightning threat is realized. The key to an effective lightning safety action plan lies in answers to the following questions:
- Where is the safest lightning shelter?
- How far is the group from that location?
- How long will it take to get the group there?
Knowing the answers to these questions and formulating a plan of action accordingly is critical to reducing the chances of anyone being struck by lightning. In tournament play or other special events, if there is a possibility of thunder and lightning storms, a pre-event meeting to assure that guidelines, safety procedures, duties and responsibilities are reviewed and clearly understood by all event staff and participants should be conducted. If this is not possible, then a communication plan should be incorporated to ensure this information is given to all participants and volunteers to ensure safe and orderly execution of emergency planning procedures. Event officials will consult and determine the course of action – give the “all clear” sign for games to resume, cancel the balance of ongoing games or cancel games for the day. Team managers and umpires, will have the authority, as so designated, to delay the start of play, call a halt in play or suspend/terminate a game due to severe weather conditions. Studies have shown that most people struck by lightning are struck not at the height of a thunderstorm, but before and after the storms have peaked. This is because lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining and many people are unaware of how far lightning can strike from its originating thunderstorm. When thunder is heard it is within striking distance. – seek shelter immediately. Do not wait for the rain to start before seeking shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended. Restart games after no thunder has been heard for 30 minutes, or if there is a warning system in place.