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How to Keep Young Athletes Cool

Heat Illness in Young Athletes is Largely Preventable

With a few commonsense safeguards, practices, meets and games can go on even when the mercury rises. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently revised its guidelines on sports and heat. The update cites new research showing healthy kids and teens can adapt to the heat just as well as adults.

Smart Strategies Keep Players Cool

Emergency Prep by School or Sports Officials

Preparation goes a long way in keeping warm-weather workouts safe. If your child is on a team or in a league, ask school or sports officials about their emergency plans. They should have trained staff present at all practices and games, and be ready to change the length or reschedule when the heat index gets too high.

Discuss the Dangers of Heat Illness

Talk with your children about the dangers of heat illness. Explain that they should drink and rest more when it's warm. And make sure they know to speak up if they feel ill.

Limit Activity During and Soon After Illness

Limit your child's activity during and soon after illness, especially one that affects the stomach or causes fever. If your child has a chronic medical disease that may make him or her more susceptible to dehydration, such as heart disease, kidney disease or sickle cell disease, talk with his or her doctor before allowing exercise in the heat.

Plenty of Fluids

Make sure there are enough fluids on hand before, during and after workouts and events. Depending on age and weight, children need as much as 8 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.

Act Quickly When Heat Illness Strikes

When you're on the sidelines, watch for warning signs of heat exhaustion, which include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Pale, moist skin

If you spot these symptoms, have your child stop exercising, sit or lie down and cool off with fluids and cold towels or ice bags. If symptoms don't subside, get emergency help.