As student athletes hit the practice fields to get ready for fall sports, summer heat and humidity can be especially hazardous as players begin to prepare for the upcoming season. The American Red Cross offers ways coaches can help keep players safe.
Avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day – schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening.
Get players acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of workouts or exercise until they are more accustomed to the heat.
Have players take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes to drink fluids and try to have them stay in the shade.
Those in charge should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather. Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.
Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
HEAT EXHAUSTION Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well. Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
ONLINE COURSE FOR COACHES The online course – First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches – was developed by the Red Cross and the National Federation of State High School Associations to provide an overview of first aid and “best practices” for first aid situations encountered by coaches, including injuries to officials, fellow coaches or spectators. More information is available here.
KNOW FIRST AID Prepare for the unexpected with first aid training from the Red Cross. We offer in-person classes, online training or our Simulation Learning experience which combines online and in-person training. Through our classes, you will not only learn how to perform first aid but have the confidence and skills to do it correctly. Learn more here.
You can also download the Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips including heat-related emergencies. Download this app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.