Heat Illness and death are almost entirely preventable!

According to the CDC, heat illness during practice or competition is the leading cause of serious injury and death among U.S. high school athletes. Heat-related illness and death are almost entirely preventable, so it is important to establish and follow a proper heat-acclimatization program to reduce the risk of exertional heat illness, recognize the symptoms of heat illness and begin treatment immediately.

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Heat Illness Awareness:

Know the signs of heat illness and use a wet-bulb globe thermometer for an accurate heat stress measurement.

Signs of Heat Illness

  • Dizziness
  • Cramps, muscular tightening and spasms
  • Lightheadedness, when not associated symptoms

Early Warning Signs of Exertional Heat Stroke

  • Headache, dizziness, confusion and disorientation
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Excessive sweating and/or flushing
  • Fatigue
  • Chills and/or goose bumps

Signs of Exertional Heat Stroke

  • Core body temperature of more than 105 degrees
  • Signs of nervous system dysfunction, such as confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures

During Activity

A majority of athletes arrive at workouts or events hypo-hydrated. Water loss that is not regained increases the risk for heat illness. Be prepared and ready to support your athletes' needs by stocking up on hydration now.

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Safety Tips

  • Have sports drinks on hand for workout sessions lasting longer than an hour.
  • Keep beverages cold – cold beverages are consumed 50 percent more than warm beverages.
  • Hydrate before, during and after activity. Drinking 3-4 cups of water, per hour, is recommended.
  • Remove unnecessary equipment, such as helmets and padding, when environmental conditions become extreme.
  • Clothing worn by athletes should be light colored, lightweight and protect against the sun.
  • For the first week or so, hold shorter practices with lighter equipment so players can acclimate to the heat.
  • Follow a work-to-rest ratio, such as 10-minute breaks after 40 minutes of exercise.

Heat Illness Response

Exertional heat stroke is an elevated core temperature (usually >40 degrees C or 104 degrees F) associated with signs of organ system failure due to hypothermia. Heat stroke occurs when the temperature regulation system is overwhelmed due to excessive heat production or inhibited heat loss in challenging environmental conditions during physical activity. Cold water immersion is the most effective cooling modality for athletes with EHS.

  • Set up cold water immersion prior to any high-risk event.
  • bullet: The goal for an EHS victim is to lower the body temperature to 102 degrees F or less within 30 minutes of collapse.
  • Have large cold tubs ready before all practices and games in case cold water immersion is needed to treat exertional heat stroke.
  • Be sure to follow state regulations when communicating about your patient with heat related illness and administering treatment to them.