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BEATING THE HEAT: Preventing heat exhaustion and stroke in youth athletes


When a 15 year-old high school football player collapsed and died from heat stroke last summer (with his coach later indicted), it was one of six heat-related deaths of high school and college athletes last year.

Click here for more info and video on the story: Fortunately, while cases of heat stroke and other heat illnesses among youth baseball players are not as likely or as deadly as they are in an equipment-heavy sport like football, the combination of summer heat and dehydration represent a real concern for youth baseball coaches and parents.

The fact is, because their sweat glands arenít as developed as adults, children and teens are far more susceptible to the dangers of heat illnesses. Practicing and playing in the heat and humidity of summer can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Thatís why any time a player shows signs of any of the following symptoms, itís up to coaches and the supervising adults present to follow these procedures immediately:

Heat Exhaustion:
  • Symptoms: Paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.
  • Actions to be taken: Move the player to a cool, shaded place and provide cool liquids. Place wet towels or ice packs on the playerís head, neck and armpits to assist in cooling.
Heat Stroke:
  • Symptoms: Body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness.
  • Actions to be taken: Call 911 immediately and inform them that a player is down and you suspect heat stroke. After calling, if possible get player to a cool, shaded place. Put wet towels or ice packs on the playerís head, neck, feet and armpits. If conscious, get the player to drink cool fluids. If unconscious, roll the player over to their side, so that if vomiting occurs, it wonít block the passageway in their throat.
Of course, the easiest way to prevent heat-related illness is to make sure all players stay hydrated in hot weather with frequent water breaks and, in the case of extremely hot weather, limiting the amount of practice or playing time.

Click here for more on prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses:
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