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The new school year means the start of fall sports and after-school practices. But fall’s breeze and mild temperatures are still weeks, if not months, away.
How can you keep your kids safe in these late-summer temperatures? Dr. Gretchen Polinski says everyone should train and hydrate properly to avoid the dangers of heat exposure.
“With fall sports starting, the summer heat is still in full effect. Athletes, coaches, and parents need to be aware of the risk that heat can bring,” she says.
Prepare for the heat
“Athletes can protect themselves by staying hydrated, wearing cool, light-colored clothes, and gradually increasing their activities in the hot weather,” says Dr. Polinski.
While everyone should drink plenty of water, athletes need to replenish their liquids more frequently—especially in the heat.
Dr. Polinski suggests that athletes drink 16 ounces of fluids the hour before exercise or practice to hydrate. Afterward, drinking sports drinks will replenish electrolytes lost in sweat. Encourage the athlete in your family to hydrate often, even if they’re not thirsty.
Along with staying hydrated, athletes should acclimate their bodies to late-summer’s heat and protect their skin from the sun. Wearing moisture-wicking, or dry-fit, clothing helps regulate the body’s temperature, especially under those bulky pads. Long-sleeved dry-fit shirts help keep the body cool and add a layer of protection against the sun.
And sunscreen should be applied regularly, even on cloudy days.
Know the signs of too much heat
Be on the lookout for these conditions that may arise due to overexposure to the heat.
- Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats, causing headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, or heat cramps. If someone shows these signs, get them out of the heat, have them lie down, and keep them hydrated.
- Heat stroke is more severe. Someone experiencing heat stroke may become confused, and they may stop sweating. This can lead to seizures. Seek medical care immediately if someone shows signs of a heat stroke.
While the heat can be dangerous, these steps can help athletes do what they love while staying safe and healthy.