As summer approaches, there is always a risk for heat related injuries when participating in outdoor activities. These risks are increased for young athletes participating in outdoor sports. By knowing what causes heat related illnesses you can help minimize the risks and keep your kids safe during summer sports.
Dehydration is the root cause of heat related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Therefore it is important that children stay hydrated during outdoor activities. Children are more prone to dehydration than adults for several reasons. Children produce more body heat, they sweat less, and they are less likely to drink enough during exercise. Some children are at an increased risk to dehydration. Children who are overweight, those who don’t exercise regularly and those who have recently had illnesses which cause vomiting or diarrhea should take extra precautions
when participating in outdoor sports.
Here are a few tips to help minimize the risks for heat related illnesses in young athletes.
1. Gradual acclimation to the heat
It is never a good practice to jump right into a full fledged workout. The intensity of the workout should gradually increase over a period of about 2 weeks. This gives their bodies an opportunity to adjust to the higher temperatures by drinking more, allowing an increase in blood volume and producing more sweat.
2. Limit the layering of clothing during workouts
Young athletes should limit their clothing to 1 layer of light weight, light colored clothing. Multiple layers and dark colored clothing increase body temperature and increase risk of overheating.
3. Drink plenty of water
Children should be well hydrated prior to any outdoor practice regimen. It’s always a good practice to take frequent water breaks (about every 20 minutes) when exercising in high temperatures. The recommended amount of water (during breaks) for an 88 pound child is 5 ozs and 9 ozs for a 132 lb teen (American Academy of Pediatrics).
4. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine
Caffeine increases the amount of urine output and as a result causes dehydration to occur at a faster rate.
5. Don’t ignore the signs!
If your child displays any signs of dehydration such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, dry mouth, crankiness, and abnormally cool skin (clammy). Allow them to rest and make sure they drink plenty of fluids to allow their body to recuperate.
These are only a few tips to help keep your young athlete safe during the hot summer months. By paying close attention to your child and taking extra precautions, you can avoid dehydration and the heat related illnesses that come as a result.