The American Red Cross recommends team officials, coaches and parents take steps to help ensure the safety of their players during the recent excessive heat.
“Keeping athletes safe is crucial,” said Janienne Bella, central and western Oklahoma regional CEO.
“Make sure athletes stay hydrated. Have everyone drink plenty of fluids like water or sports drinks with electrolytes before, during and after activities.”
Team practices should be scheduled for early in the day and later in the evening to avoid exposing players to the hottest times of the day.
Other steps teams, schools and parents should take to protect their athletes include:
• Allow athletes to get acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of practice until they are more accustomed to it.
• About every 20 minutes stop for fluids and try to keep the athletes in the shade if possible.
• Reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in extremely hot, humid weather.
• Dress athletes, when appropriate, in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored, cotton T-shirts and shorts.
• Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
“Coaches and parents need to be vigilant in watching for signs of heat-related emergencies. Athletes should inform their coaches, teachers or parents if they are not feeling well,” Bella said.
— Heat cramps are often an early sign the body is having trouble with the heat.
— Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
— Signs of heat stroke include those of heat exhaustion and hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; change or loss of consciousness; seizures; vomiting; and high body temperature.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately if a player shows signs of a heat stroke.
For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, visit redcross.org or call 405-228-9500.