10 Critical Steps To Prevent Heat-Related Sports Injuries

Heat-related illnesses are one of the four most common injuries sustained by kids who play sports. This might seem like a worrisome statistic, but the good news is you can take action now to prevent kids and teens from suffering on the field, on the court or even in the gym. These 10 tips will help you keep your children or students safe.

  1. Build them up. While some kids are active year-round, others may spend more time racing cars in a video game than they do running around a track. Start out with shorter, more moderate practices to allow kids to adapt to the heat.
  2. Consider moisture in the air. Determining the heat index, which factors the air temperature and the relative humidity, can help you decide if it is simply too hot to play.
  3. Change the schedule. Practicing first thing in the morning or playing only after the sun starts to set can be a safer alternative to running around in the scorching afternoon sun.
  4. Take it indoors. If you have access to a gymnasium, indoor court or other cooled enclosure, make use of it.
  5. Make time for break time. Schedule pauses in games and practices when everyone can sit in the shade, wet down and hydrate.
  6. Provide sufficient fluids. Make sure you have ice chests filled with enough bottled water or sports beverages for everyone to have adequate amounts to drink and then some. At the very least, provide plastic water coolers loaded with ice and disposable cups or access to a drinking fountain, preferably one that dispenses cool water. Fruits, ice pops and juice can be beneficial as well.
  7. Dress accordingly. Recommend that players wear light colored, loose fitting clothing made from thin, lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric. Hats and visors with wide brims can also help athletes feel cooler.  
  8. Bring in backup monitors. Recruit parents or teachers to hang out and watch for anyone exhibiting signs of overheating. Assign specific kids or sections to each adult so that no one is inadvertently overlooked.
  9. Identify risks. Players with underlying health issues as well as those who take certain medications, are obese or have a history of heat-related illness may be more vulnerable than their peers, so take extra precautions and pay closer attention to these kids.  
  10. Know the warning signs. If any child displays the following symptoms, accompany them to an urgent care clinic like Urgent Care of Stafford or call 911 for a medical assessment:
  • Pale, moist skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness, fatigue and fainting

Note: If the child experiences hot, red, dry or damp skin; a fever above 103°F; a rapid heart rate; confusion, agitation and lethargy; unconsciousness or has a seizure, call 911 immediately, as these may be signs of life-threatening heat stroke