Monday, August 8, 2011

Heat Tips for Athletes

School is nearing! However, schools around the U.S have already began practicing for fall sports. Soccer and tennis may be fun, but playing outside in the heat could have many consequences. If you've ever wandered why Miami calls their basketball team the “Heats”, its because heat is undoubtedly dangerous. People often forget this and with the increase of student athlete deaths, it is crucial that coaches and parents take the necessary steps to ensure their player's safety in this extreme heat. To make it easier to follow, we've decided to make a list of tips that would help to create a safer experience.

  1. Practice earlier in the day. Team practices should be scheduled for early in the day or later in evening to avoid the extreme heat during the day.
  2. Give athletes time to adjust to heat. Sudden intense heat could severely harm athletes who haven't yet accustomed to the heat.
  3. Breaks are crucial. Making breaks will give you time to recover from the heat. It is advised to stop every 20 minutes to rest and drink fluids. Additionally, shade is essential for a proper cool down.
  4. Reduce heavy equipment. This mostly applies to football, but reducing the amount of heavy apparel helps to alleviate the athletes from the heat.

Applying these tips will help to prevent any unwanted injuries; however, being ready never hurts. Knowing the signs of heat-related emergencies and how to help one who is suffering is essential.

Heat Cramps

What are they caused by?
Heat Cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to intense heat and humidity.

What does it show? Signs?
Heat cramps are the body's way of telling us that its having trouble with the high heat levels.

What to do?
The first thing to do would be to get the individual to a relatively cool area. After doing so, stretching, massaging or icing could further alleviate the pain. In addition, drinking cool water every 15 minutes will significantly help.

Heat Exhaustion

What are they caused by?
Heat exhaustion is caused by exercise induced heat and fluid and electrolyte loss from sweating.

What does it show? Signs?
Heat Exhaustion shows that the individual is exposed to the heat for too long and is not getting enough rest or liquids from their body. There are many signs of heat exhaustion, but the most common are pale skin, heavy sweating, headaches, and dizziness.

What to do?
Move the individual to a cooler location and remove any tight clothing. Applying wet towels to the skin will help to cool the athlete. Additionally, give the individual water to rehydrate, but if he/she refuses, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Heat Stroke

What are they caused by?
Heat strokes are the most dangerous of the 3 listed here. It is a life-threatening condition in which a person's body is unable to cool itself.

What does it show? Signs?
Signs of heat stroke include those of heat exhaustion and hot, red skin, loss of consciousness, seizures, vomiting and high blood temperatures.

What to do? 
Since heat strokes are life-threatening it is crucial to call 9-1-1 immediately to receive professional assistance. Meanwhile, move the person to a cooler place and find any possible way to make the person cooler whether it be ice bags or completely immersing the person in water.  

Learn how to prevent and respond to heat-related and other emergencies by taking a First Aid/CPR/AED course. Register today and be prepared for the heat.

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