How to Keep Young Athletes Safe From Heat Illness
Kids benefit tremendously from summer sports. They’re a great outlet for exercising, building relationships, and instilling confidence. But in hot weather months, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that young athletes don’t overheat while they’re out in the sun.
Heat exhaustion and heat strokes are serious medical conditions that can result in serious bodily injury or death. They are, however, very preventable, and steps can be taken throughout the day to ensure that a child stays healthy on the field. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep children safe while they’re on the field.
Drink Before. Drink During. Drink After.
Drinking water is the most effective way to prevent overheating, but just hydrating during practice or a game doesn’t cut it. When temperatures reach the 90s and 100s, children need to be steadily drinking water hours before they compete to prime and hours after to replace the fluid lost while outdoors.
Kids may be resistant to drinking too much water when they’re not thirsty – especially when they’re in a comfortable, air-conditioned setting, but they need to be reminded that drinking off the field is just as important as drinking during a timeout. Add fresh fruit to that cup of water for flavor and a healthy snack.
And keep the refills coming.
Say No to Soda
It is in a young athlete’s best interest to avoid sugary sodas. Soda may taste great, but it dehydrates and provides no nutritional value. The beverage can hinder a young athlete’s progress to stay hydrated throughout the day, so clear all the cans out of the fridge and save the soda for special occasions.
Sports drinks typically contain quite a bit of sugar, but they can benefit athletes if they are consumed in small amounts. The electrolytes in these drinks replace salt and minerals lost in sweat.
Wearing the right clothing in the heat is crucial. It’s important for young athletes to make sure their non-uniform clothing isn’t a magnet for high temperatures. Pick lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored gear. This is especially important for football players who wear clothing under their pads.
Cramping? Nausea? Stop Playing, Start Cooling.
There are times when even prepared athletes fall victim to heat illness. When cramps, nausea and other symptoms appear, it’s time to take the kids off the field and start cooling them off. Escort them to an indoor, air-conditioned room, or a shady area so they can rest.
If you believe that an athlete is suffering a heat stroke (body temperature above 103°F), submerge them in ice water or pour cold water on them and do not give them fluids to drink. Contact medical personnel immediately.
By following these tips, you can help your children get the most out of their outdoor sports and stay safe in the heat.