Local student athletes are excited to get back on the field, but as they start practicing they need to be careful. Studies show that two thirds of all heat related illnesses in high school athletes occur in August, and 70% of heat related illnesses occur on the football field. “Parents, players, and coaches need to be alert,” says Memorial Hospital Medical Director Gary Winfield, MD. “Teens may not recognize the warning signs of a heat illness, or they may try and play through it.”
Here are some tips:
- All athletes should take frequent water breaks – every 10 to 15 minutes – even if they are not thirsty
- Avoid drinks with caffeine
- Start hydrating early, in the hours leading up to practice
- Student athletes should wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and avoid wearing heavy protective equipment as much as possible
- Coaches and parents need to look out for the signs of heat-related illnesses, like nausea, vomiting, incoherence, lightheadedness, excessive fatigue, vision problems and chills.
If an athlete shows any discomfort, they should seek shelter and start hydrating. If they show symptoms of a heat-related illness, they should seek medical attention immediately.