There are no national standards for keeping marching band members safe like there are for other active populations.
To fill this gap, a study published in the International Journal of Biometeorologyanalyzed news reports of band members suffering heat-related illnesses from 1990 to 2020 and found almost 400 band students who overexerted themselves and became ill due to heat exposure.
About half of these students were treated on-site and did not require hospitalization, but 44% wound up in the hospital for treatment before being released the same day. The others suffered from heatstroke, requiring more than just one day in the hospital.
Most of the 34 events that caused the heat illnesses were high school-level rehearsals, parades, and competitions, including one band event that drew over 30 different bands from Indiana and resulted in 35 heat-caused illnesses.
The study relied on data from news reports so the number of total cases is likely an underestimate.
Students, schools, and organizations can be protected by implementing similar guidelines to those used in the sports world.
Giving students more breaks, encouraging them to drink water throughout practice to stay hydrated, and letting them wear lighter-weight clothing for practices can make a big difference.
A process of gradually increasing the number of times students practice outdoors over several days is called acclimatization. This process can allow their bodies to adjust to prevailing heat conditions.
This study raises awareness about heat-related problems in students so that school officials can come up with better safety policies to prepare for the future.