Fall is just around the corner, and a new school year is on the horizon. Although classes have not started for most school districts, many athletes are already suited up in their school colors and hitting the field for sports practice. Practice for fall sports such as football, soccer, and cross-country often start during the summer heat. Check out our tips below to ensure your child is staying cool and injury-free during practice:

Monitor Weather Conditions

Heat index and humidity levels can change quickly, especially as you near the middle of the day. Stay up-to-date on the weather forecast and make changes to the practice schedule, if necessary. If possible, schedule practices for early mornings, or later in the afternoon. Avoid practicing outdoors when the temperature is 90 degrees or more. 

Stay Hydrated

When preparing for a summer sports practice, stay hydrated before, during, and after the game. Make sure water is readily available, and encourage athletes to drink as much water as they desire. To encourage drinking, provide water breaks every thirty minutes for a ten minutes duration and offer ice-down towels for cooling. If the heat index is over 95 degrees, make drinking water mandatory at each break.  

Protective Gear

Using helmets, pads, and other protective equipment is important when playing contact sports – even in the heat. If you are wearing clothing under the protective gear, opt for lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored gear. Also, remove protective gear as often as possible when not in the game to keep cooler. 

Sun Safety

Heat is not the only potential hazard in the sun. Prevent sunburn by lathering your athlete with sunscreen and reapply regularly. In addition to arms, shoulders and legs, make sure you cover often-overlooked places such as back of the neck, ears, and hair part. Remember, sweat washes away sunscreen just as much as a dip in the pool. Consider using a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply according to the protection label on the product. Most water-resistant sunscreens offer protection while sweating for 80 or 40 minutes. We recommend storing your sunscreen in a cooler for a refreshing reapplication. 

Keep a Close Eye on Athletes

Even the most prepared team can experience a heat related injury. Keep a close eye on all players and verbally ask them how they are doing during water breaks. If anyone is demonstrating signs of heat-related illness or injury, remove the players from the field and start cooling down in an air-conditioned room or shady area. 

Heat exhaustion can begin suddenly or over time. If you notice cool, moist skin with goose bumps, heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, or a headache, immediately remove all protective gear and move the athlete into a shady or air-conditioned location. If signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve, seek medical care. If an athlete experiences fainting, agitation, confusion, seizures, or an inability to drink, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

Should an athlete need medical attention, Patient First provides non-appointment urgent care for routine injuries and illnesses, including treatment of heat-related illnesses. All centers are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year, including holidays. To find a center near you, please visit our locations page.