Todd Narson, DC
Summer is an exciting time for young athletes to showcase their skills on the field. However, it is crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being, especially when it comes to protecting them from the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke during summer sports. In this post, we will delve into essential tips that can help safeguard young athletes from these potential dangers associated with outdoor exercise and sports during the summer.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, but having some knowledge about heat illness and injury, like heat stroke, can greatly help in preventing such incidents and potentially saving lives, including the life of your child.
Key Points to Understand for Parents, Athletes and Coaches:
- Accurate Temperature Regulation:
Accurate temperature regulation is important to prevent overheating and heat related injuries in athletes. Using a Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer (WBGT) to monitor temperature conditions, regularly measuring and recording WBGT readings, and regulating water and rest breaks based on the WBGT index can help prevent overheating and heat-related injuries such as heat stroke.
- Emergency Measures:
Emphasizing the importance of having emergency cooling measures readily available, such as ice baths, ice tacos, or ice submersion systems, can help rapidly lower body temperature in case of heat-related emergencies. As you will read below, the cost of items necessary to keep young athletes safe isn’t that much.
- Understanding the Dangers:
Understanding the potential dangers and fatality risks associated with heat stroke injuries, recognizing the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and promptly addressing these conditions are crucial to preventing heat-related injuries.
Understanding the Dangers-FAST FACTS
- Over the past 25 years, at least 50 high school football players in the U.S. have died from heat stroke, highlighting the risks of heat-related illnesses in youth sports.
- Female cross-country athletes are twice as likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses as athletes in any other high school sport.
- Heat-related illnesses and deaths in youth sports are entirely preventable.
- Heat is the most frequent climate-related killer in the United States, surpassing tornadoes, floods, and cold temperatures.
- Extreme heat is leading to escalating heat-related illness, injuries, hospitalizations, and deaths among high school athletes.
- August, the back-to-school and back-to-sports season, has the highest concentration of heat illness in young athletes.
- Lawsuits related to heat injuries have been on the rise, highlighting a disconnect between adults’ duty of care and athletes’ well-being.
- Heat injuries are preventable, and legal cases alleging negligence and wrongful death have been successful.
- Sports leagues and athletes have been reactive rather than proactive in implementing and advocating for change in heat-related safety measures.
- The Role of Parents and Coaches:
Parental involvement is crucial in ensuring the safety of child and adolescent athletes during summer sports. Parents should educate themselves about heat-related risks and preventive measures, while coaches should prioritize athletes’ safety, provide adequate breaks, and create a supportive environment. Often, summer sports camps are not required to adhere to the same rules and safety standards as their high school and middle school counterparts. This is where parental involvement comes into play. Parents need to help ensure that all safety measures are in place, and in the summer, heat illness and injury is a serious issue. So, be aware and be involved. PARENTS…IT’S YOUR JOB TO HOLD COACHES AND PROGRAMS ACCOUNTABLE!!!
- Affordability of Safety Equipment:
Equipment for preventing heat stroke is often affordable and accessible, such as WBGT thermometers, cooling towels, hydration packs, and a tub for cold water/ice immersion.
- For example:
- Triplett HS10 Indoor/Outdoor Heat Stress WBGT (Wet Bulb Globe Temperature) Meter on Amazon.com is $52.00
- Mcgrady1xm Portable Foldable Bathtub for Adults, Ice Cold Bath Tub is $46.00 on Amazon.com
- A Kiddie Pool that can be used as an cold water-ice immersion bath can be purchased for as little as $16.00.
- Towels brought from home that each athlete has soaked in a cooler with ice water brought from home ($00.00)
- Coolers with ice water supplied by the camp ($00.00)
From the above quick search, you can see how inexpensive the necessary equipment is to help prevent heat illness and heat injury in our young athletes.
- Importance of Water Breaks:
Regular water breaks during practice and games are significant to prevent dehydration and heat-related injuries. Coaches should never use water breaks as bargaining chips or punishments, and athletes should hydrate adequately.
87°F | > 89°F | Extreme Risk | Cancel or reschedule activities, ensure athletes are in a cool environment, monitor closely for signs of heat illness, provide immediate medical attention if necessary | Drink 12-20 ounces of fluids every 20 minutes
Important Note: Individual hydration needs may vary. It is essential to consider factors such as body weight, sweat rate, and individual tolerance to ensure appropriate fluid intake for optimal hydration during physical activity.
Remember to consult relevant guidelines and experts in the field for specific hydration recommendations tailored to individual athletes and sports.
As the summer sports season gains momentum, safeguarding young athletes from heat exhaustion and heat stroke becomes a top priority. By implementing the essential tips discussed in this blog post, parents, coaches, and athletes can ensure a safe and enjoyable summer sports experience. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being of young athletes, protect them from heat-related risks, and create an environment where they can thrive both on and off the field.
The Role of a DACBSP® or CCSP® in Heat Illness or Heat Stroke:
When it comes to the safety and well-being of young athletes at summer outdoor sports camps, having a trained medical professional on-site is a vital step in the right direction. Whether it’s an ATC, MD, DO, NP, or a Chiropractic Physician with a CCSP® or DACBSP®, their expertise plays a crucial role in recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat illness and heat stroke, and taking immediate action. These professionals are trained to be aware of the environmental conditions that can lead to heat-related issues, and they are equipped to activate emergency protocols, including contacting the appropriate emergency services. While they provide initial cooling and hydration measures, it’s important to remember that the actual treatment of heat stroke should take place in the emergency room. By prioritizing the presence of trained medical professionals, we can ensure the safety of young athletes and minimize the risks associated with heat-related incidents.
It is also imperative that coaches are well versed in the signs and symptoms of heat illness and know when to take action. Since summer camps are not as well regulated as school year sports programs, it is extremely important that parents be actively involved and make sure the proper help is available in case an emergency occurs.
It is my suggestion that all schools and school programs have a licensed athletic trainer to oversee these programs and be there in case of an emergency. If your school or summer camp program doesn’t have a licensed athletic trainer, you can find one here: https://www.ataf.org/. If none are available in your area, a chiropractic physician with DACBSP® or CCSP® post graduate specialty can step in as well. If you’re not here in Miami Beach / Miami, go to https://www.acbsp.com/directory/ enter your location and you can find a DACBSP® or CCSP® near you that can help you with your sports injury!
- Zhang Y, Davis JK, Casa DJ, Bishop PA. ‘Optimizing Cold Water Immersion for Exercise-Induced Hyperthermia: A Meta-analysis.’
- Luhring KE, Butts CL, Smith CR, Bonacci JA, Ylanan RC, Ganio MS, McDermott BP. ‘Cooling Effectiveness of a Modified Cold-Water Immersion Method After Exercise-Induced Hyperthermia.’
- ‘For Heat-Stricken Athletes, Ice Baths Save Lives. So Coaches, Where Are They?’ American Council on Science and Health (acsh.org)
- Choudhary, Ekta, and Vaidyanathan, Ambarish. “Heat Risk and Young Athletes: Rising Temperatures Lead to Lawsuits and Environmental Injustice.” The Conversation. Published on August 9, 2022. Available at: https://theconversation.com/heat-risk-and-young-athletes-rising-temperatures-lead-to-lawsuits-and-environmental-injustice-185189