Anytime children or teens play sports or are physically active in hot weather, they are at risk of developing heat-related illnesses. Here’s how heat-related problems arise and what steps you can take to prevent them.
- 1 Dehydration risk factors
- 2 How to acclimate to the heat
- 3 Spot dehydration and other heat-related issues
- 4 Prevention is key
Dehydration risk factors
Your child could be vulnerable to dehydration and other heat-related illnesses in a hot or humid environment if they:
– wears protective clothing or equipment that contributes to excessive heat retention
– is overweight or obese
– had a recent illness, including diarrhoea, vomiting or fever
– takes certain supplements or medications, such as cold medicines
– Has a chronic illness, such as diabetes
– Is not well rested
How to acclimate to the heat
The risk of heat-related problems is greatest during the first days of activity in a hot environment. That’s why it’s best to take it slow at first, gradually increasing the level of activity as the days go by. Young athletes may need two weeks to acclimatize to the heat safely.
To protect young people, in the event of heat and humidity, coaches are encouraged to:
– Require young athletes to drink plenty of fluids before training and during regular breaks, even if they are not thirsty.
– Ensure clothing is light-coloured, light and loose fitting, or exposes as much skin as possible
– Limit activity to noon, when the temperature is highest
– Reduce or stop practices or competitions if necessary, or move them indoors or to a shaded area
– Ensure cash is available at all times
– Know when to slow down or stop
Even mild dehydration can affect your child’s athletic performance and make him lethargic and irritable. If left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related health conditions, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Encourage your child to pay attention to early signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:
– Dry or sticky mouth
– Excessive tiredness
– Lack of interest in the game
– Inability to run as fast or play as well as usual
Remind your child to report signs and symptoms to their coach immediately.
If dehydration is detected in time, it is sometimes enough to give him fluids and let him rest. If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.
Prevention is key
If your child plays sports in hot weather, encourage them to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after practice and play. Teach your child the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and the importance of speaking up if they occur.
Also involve your child’s coach. Ask the coach to adjust training intensity based on temperature and humidity, and support their decision to cancel games and practices when it’s dangerously hot outside.