From the professionals
all the way down to Pop Warner, football training camps are
in full swing. But so is the summer heat and humidity. Football
players of all skill levels are at risk for heat related illness.
the most dangerous of the heat-related illnesses. If not treated
immediately, it can be fatal. The exact cause of heatstroke
isn't clear, and unlike heat exhaustion, it strikes suddenly
and with little warning. When the body cooling systems fails,
the core temperature rises quickly. Signs of heatstroke include
a core body temperature above 105°F, hot, dry skin, lack
of sweating, a very fast pulse, and mental status changes
such as confusion, disorientation and clumsiness.
suffer a slightly different type of heatstroke called exertional
heatstroke. In exertional heatstroke, victims continue to
sweat, despite the increased core temperature.
It is important
to be aware that heatstroke is not limited to athletes. It
can also occur while attending an outdoor concert, walking
around an outdoor street festival or, for that matter, working
in your backyard garden.
Here is our
suggested risk management strategy for heatstroke prevention:
to heat gradually. Early practices, such as during the
first seven-10 days, should be shorter and less intense,
as should those on abnormally hot or humid days.
attention to the Humidity Index. The temperature and
relative humidity should be taken into account in determining
the length of practice sessions. It has been suggested
that, if the sum of the temperature and relative humidity
are greater than or equal to 160, precautions must be
taken. If the sum is greater than 180, practice and/or
games should be cancelled.
regular breaks. Adjust the activity level and provide
frequent rest periods during hot weather. Rest should
be accomplished in shaded areas, helmets taken off,
and jerseys loosened or removed. Rest periods should
consist of 15 minutes each hour of workout and, if the
temperature and humidity are over 160, breaks should
occur every 30 minutes.
water should be available in unlimited quantities to
players. Scheduled water breaks should be strictly enforced.
A good general rule is 16 ounces of water two hours
prior to activity, plus half a water bottle every break,
and, for every pound of weight loss, three cups of water
after activity. Stay away from caffeine drinks as they
dehydrates the body. Avoid carbonated beverages, which
can cause bloating and deter you from drinking enough
salt tablets. Instead, salt should be replaced through
electrolyte sports drinks and seasoning of food.
water loss and replenish fluids. Athletes should be
weighed before and after each practice to monitor water
loss. A good way to monitor and document weight is in
a chart in the bathroom by the scale. Weight loss greater
than three percent indicates a substantial risk and
five percent a significant danger. Remember to drink
water before and after practice to replace fluids.
proper, breathable clothing for strenuous activities.
During practice, athletes should wear cool clothing
such as shorts and fishnet jerseys. Sweat-saturated
T-shirts should be changed often because they retain
heat. Helmets should be used sparingly in hot weather.
your athletes' vulnerabilities. Some are more susceptible
to heat illness than others. Identify and observe closely
the ones at greatest risk of heat illness, especially
those that are poorly conditioned, overweight, and/
or have an acute physical illness (such as cystic fibrosis
or diabetes). A player who develops cramps, weakness,
fatigue, and nausea is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion
(a precursor to heat stroke) and should be made to rest
in the shade and drink fluids to cool off.
alert to the problem. It is imperative that all coaches,
parents, and players be on the lookout for the signs
of fatigue--lethargy, inattention, stupor, and/or awkwardness.
The athlete must be removed immediately from participation,
cooled down (blanket the athlete with cool, not cold,
damp sheets or towels), and placed in a shaded environment.
All too often, symptoms are present, but everyone ignores
the signs until catastrophe occurs.
For the youth
athlete, parents need to become activists in their practices
and games. If water breaks are not occurring, a parent needs
to step forward and make them happen. People are dying from
this illness, now is not the time to be passive and think
that the coaches know more than you do about your child.
a life-threatening condition. Follow these
first aid steps:
911 or other emergency medical services.
the person into a cool place, out of direct sunlight.
unnecessary clothing and place the person on his or
her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as
the person's entire body by sponging or spraying cool
(not cold) water and fan the person to lower the person's
ice packs to the groin, neck, and armpits, where large
blood vessels lie close to the skin surface. Do not
immerse the person in an ice bath.
possible, check the rectal temperature frequently, and
try to cool it to 102.3 °F (39.06 °C) or lower
as soon as possible. The longer the body is at a high
temperature, the more serious the illness and the more
possible complications. Temperatures taken by mouth
or in the ear are not accurate in this emergency situation.
breathing stops, start CPR.
not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce a high body
temperature that can occur with heatstroke. These medications
may cause problems because of the body's response to
the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give
the person fluids (32 fl oz to 64 fl oz over 1 to 2
hours) for hydration.