As California sports are allowed to return to practice, it is critical to be aware of the risks of exertional heat illness. Extended heat exposure, lack of hydration, and high exertion in hot and/or humid conditions can result in life-threatening conditions. Here are a few tips to beat the heat:
- Proper preparation before practice is key. Athletes should be hydrating throughout the day prior to a session, eating adequate calories for their activity level, and supplementing with a sports drink when necessary.
- Athletes should have access to fluids throughout practice, not just during designated water breaks.
- Be aware of any at-risk athletes beforehand. If athletes have pre-existing conditions (sickle cell anemia, diabetes, history of heat illness, etc.), they are at a higher risk to experience heat illness. Allow these athletes proper accommodations throughout practice.
- Limit time and intensity while outside. Add more water breaks at shorter intervals, allow for proper recovery, and ensure that athletes are hydrating at every break.
- Be aware of the symptoms of heat illness. Common symptoms include (but are not limited to): headache, dizziness, excessive fatigue, fainting, muscle cramping, vomiting, nausea, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness.
- CALL 911 or find the on-site athletic trainer if athletes exhibit any of the following symptoms: altered level of consciousness, hot and wet skin but no longer sweating, unusual/uncharacteristic behaviors, confusion, or disorientation. These symptoms may indicate exertional heat stroke, which will lead to death if untreated.
This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage coaches, parents, and athletes to learn more about preventing heat illness. For more information, follow this link to the NATA heat illness page.