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Heat and humidity: Sports parents, beware!

Keep athletes safeSummer youth sports leagues are still in full swing as high school athletic teams hit the practice fields anticipating the new school year. This means young athletes are giving their all in blast-furnace heat and sauna-like humidity for hours at a time. What’s a parent to do to keep them safe?

Take weather conditions seriously

First, take heat and humidity seriously during Kansas City’s dog days of summer, when the heat index typically registers between simmer and boil. Physical exertion in such conditions can quickly lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke or other conditions. When possible, keep your young athlete out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.   

Be prepared in extreme heat

The good news is heat-related illnesses and conditions are 100 percent preventable. Have your young athlete take these precautions.

  • Slather on sunscreen
  • Wear light-weight, light-colored clothes
  • Remember a hat and sunglasses
  • Avoid greasy foods and drink plenty of water before going out   
  • Find shade whenever possible

“Preparation starts well ahead of sporting events,” said Doug Wiesner, certified athletic trainer and youth sports medicine program director of The University of Kansas Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine. “Once the symptoms of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke hit, it’s hard to recover.”  

Hydration is key

Check with the coach or athletic trainer to confirm water will be readily available at all practices and games. Wiesner advises young athletes to drink water at every opportunity during the first hour of play. Then alternate with a watered down sports drink to boost electrolytes and limit sugar intake.  

Be sure your athlete knows to seek shade immediately and drink fluids at the first sign of dizziness, headache, nausea and/or cramping.  If you’re on the scene, consider whether your child needs medical attention. 

Learn more about staying safe in summer weather.