As August comes into full swing, fall athletes will once again find themselves training in the heat and humidity of summer.

The Midwest can be especially hot and humid this time of year, which poses a danger to our children as they run, throw, kick, and catch outdoors.

Exertional heat stroke (EHS) is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletes. According to joint research by the CDC and other organizations, 44 student athletes died between 1980 and 2015 due to EHS. Though these numbers are troubling, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure the safety and health of your child this summer.

What is EHS?

EHS occurs when the body?s core temperature gets too hot as a result of excessive physical activity. Often it occurs in hot weather, but it can occur any time, according to the Korey Stringer Institute. One of the best ways to prevent EHS is by acclimating the body to higher temperatures prior to pushing the body’s physical demands.

What Can You Do?

The National Athletic Trainer’s Association created heat acclimation protocols in 2009. These include limiting practice to no more than one per day during the first one to five days of practice and limiting training sessions to no more than three hours per day.

Other key aspects of an effective heat acclimation program include:

  1. Using a slow progression in activity level, duration, and intensity
  2. Adjusting workouts as heat and humidity increase, including close monitoring and a prompt response to developing problems
  3. Proper hydration

Coaches and athletic directors can control each of these steps, but there are steps you as a parent can take to help reduce the risk of EHS, too. You can:

  1. Make sure your child is well hydrated before, during, and after practice – send them to practice with a large water bottle and provide plenty of liquids before and after training sessions.
  2. Ensure your child has light-weight, light-colored clothing to wear to practice.
  3. Learn the warning signs: fatigue, lethargy, inattention, stupor, and/or awkwardness.
  4. Act quickly if you think your child is experiencing EHS, immediately take them out of the heat, provide them with cool water, and get them the appropriate medical care.

Sports are often an integral part of growing up, learning the essence of hard work, and teamwork. The scorching summer heat doesn’t have to bring a halt to practices and games, as long as parents, coaches, and players are well informed about EHS and take the appropriate measures to prevent it.

Give us a call regarding any of your sport-related questions or needs.