REMEMBER if you're sweltering as a spectator; imagine what it's like for your athletes. ** Learn who's at risk of dehydration — and how to prevent it.
Anytime children or adolescents play sports or get physically active in hot weather, they're at risk of heat-related illnesses-- dehydration. Understand how dehydration happens and what steps you can take to prevent it.
Risk factors for dehydration
Your child might be vulnerable to dehydration and other heat-related illnesses in a hot or humid environment if he or she:
• Wears clothing or protective gear that contributes to excessive heat retention
• Rarely exercises
• Is overweight or obese
• Is sick or had a recent illness, especially involving diarrhea, vomiting or a fever
• Is taking certain supplements or medications, such as cold medicine
• Has a chronic condition, such as diabetes
• Isn't well-rested
Acclimating to the heat
The risk of heat-related problems is greater within the first few days of activity in a hot environment. That's why it's best to take it easy at first, gradually increasing the amount of activity and the amount of protective equipment as the days pass. Young athletes might need up to two weeks to safely acclimate to the heat.
During hot and humid conditions, coaches are encouraged to:
• Require young athletes to drink plenty of fluids before practice and during regular beverage breaks even if they are not thirsty!
• Make sure clothing is light colored, lightweight and loose fitting, or exposes as much of the skin as possible
• Limit activity at midday, when the temperature is hottest
• Decrease or stop practices or competitions if necessary, or move them indoors or to a shady area
• Ensure that fluid is available at all times
The Heat Index -- Understanding the Numbers & when to slow down or call it !
To determine when heat and humidity make strenuous exercise risky for young athletes, your child's coach or organization should monitor the heat index the standard index of temperature and humidity combined. If the index measure is too high, outdoor athletic activities might need to be limited or canceled.
The Heat Index is determined by adding the temperature to the relative humidity. For example, if the temperature is 105 degrees and the humidity is 35%, the total number is 140 (Danger Zone)
The Heat Index Levels NUMBERS TO KNOW…
* Under 135 Below Danger Zone Practice as normally conducted. Water available and breaks given.
*136-145 Danger Zone Practice with modifications. Modifications may include; reduced amount of equipment worn, adjusted practice time, reduced running schedule. Water available and more frequent breaks given. Increased supervision by Athletic Training Staff and Coaches.
*Above 146 Critical Zone Practice modified, postponed, or cancelled: Modifications may include; no equipment worn or no running schedule. Water available and breaks given every 10-15 minutes or as needed. Practice moved indoors. Practice postponed until reading is no longer in the critical zone. Increased supervision by Athletic Training Staff and Coaches.
** SEE CHART ATTACHED
Spotting dehydration and other heat-related problems
Even mild dehydration can affect your child's athletic performance and make him or her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Encourage your child to pay attention to early signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:
• Dry or sticky mouth
• Dark colored urine
• Excessive fatigue
• Disinterest in the game
• Inability to run as fast or play as well as usual
***Remind your child that he or she should report signs and symptoms to the coach right away. Don't let embarrassment keep your child on the field.
If dehydration is detected early, fluids and rest might be all that's needed.
*** If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.
Prevention is key…
• Before Exercise: Drink 16 ounces of water two hours before physical activity begins, and another 8-16 ounces right before exercising.
• During Exercise: Every 15-20 minutes, drink at least 4-6 ounces of fluid during vigorous exercise.
If your child plays sports in hot weather, encourage him or her to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after practices and games. Teach your child the signs and symptoms of dehydration, as well as the importance of speaking up if they occur.
Involve your child's coach, too. Talk to the coach about adjusting the intensity of practice depending on the temperature and humidity on the field and support the coach's decision to cancel games and practices when it's dangerously hot outside.
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