Freezing weekend weather a worry for football fans

By Rebecca Fiedler
Staff Writer

It’s going to be below freezing in stadium stands on Saturday, Baylor officials said, and this raises concern for the safety of Baylor football fans braving the storm.

The Weather Channel predicts a high of 26 degrees with a low of 23 for Waco on Saturday.

“We’re concerned about hypothermia and we’re concerned about frostbite, which we think are distinct possibilities with this kind of weather,” said Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak. “It’s going to be brutally cold at that football game.”

People will have to think very differently in how they prepare themselves for for this game, Doak said.

“We suggest you put on everything you have on,” Doak said. “Layering is good – lots and lots and lots of clothes. Cover the face up. I don’t think people understand that when you sit in that kind of weather condition for three or four hours, what will happen to your skin. It will be below freezing that entire time. With the wind added to that, you’re going to get a real frostbite situation there.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website defines hypothermia as an abnormally low body temperature while frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of body tissue.

“It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes,” the website states. “Frostbite can permanently damage the body.”

There will be additional police officers and emergency personnel along with multiple first aid stations at the stadium, Doak said.

Ambulance personnel will arrive earlier than usual because of the large amount of people tailgating. Doak said he is not sure if weather conditions will affect traffic, but police are preparing for that.

Tom Hill Jr., senior associate athletic director, said from an athletic standpoint, the first focus of staff is on safety. Sand and salt have been brought in, in case weather conditions affect roads and paths.

A vendor from the Texas Department of Transportation has contracted with Baylor to help with paved roads and walkways. Ramps and roads, as well as bleachers and steps, are a big concern Hill said. They are the first priority.

“I would caution people to come early and drive safely,” Hill said.

Hill said he suggests game fans take advantage of the shuttle that will be accessible across from Ninfa’s restaurant on Third Street. Normally the shuttle comes to Heritage Square, but Waco Winter Wonderland events have caused it to be moved. Student shuttles will be available at Penland Hall.

Hill also said he urges fans to dress warmly.

“Think of it like you’re going on a ski trip and you’re going to layer up,” Hill said. “Dress warmly. The wind is coming out of the north and it’s chilly and cold.”

Doak said it’s not an obligation of Baylor to be sure people are dressed properly. It’s fans’ responsibility to be covered up, he said.

“Common sense has to apply,” he said. “If you’re going to a football game and it’s 29 or 30 degrees, you’d better wear everything you own.”