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Take caution as summer sports heat up

Take caution as summer sports heat up
Athletes in Poth participate in a football summer camp hosted by the Pirate coaching staff.

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August 1, 2012
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Playing sports in hot weather can be enjoyable, but sometimes dangerous. Each year, young athletes die from heat-related illness. All athletes, coaches, and parents need to take precautions during hot weather. Those at risk for heat-related illness are overweight or out-of-shape children, as well as those who are new to a warm climate. Additionally, children who have suffered from a heat-related illness in the past, or are currently taking cold or allergy medications or certain treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), should be carefully monitored.

The severity of heat injury ranges from mild heat cramps to heatstroke and even death. But there is one important fact to remember -- heat-related illness is preventable.

One of the key factors to avoiding heat illness is hydration. Parents can use the following tips to prevent dehydration and identify the signs:

◆Never rely on thirst. Thirst is a poor indicator of how hydrated the body is. When a young athlete begins to feel thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated.

◆Prehydrate. Thirty minutes before activity, have your child drink until he or she is no longer thirsty -- plus another eight ounces. Kids weighing less than 90 pounds should drink five ounces for every 20 minutes of activity. Kids weighing more than 90 pounds should drink eight ounces every 20 minutes.

◆Choose the right drink. Water is best if the activity lasts one hour or less. For activities lasting more than one hour, kids should drink a fluid with carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes. Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade were specially designed for rehydration during exercise and contain the right amount of carbohydrates. Fluids like fruit juice and soda have too much sugar and can cause cramping.

◆Drink it, don’t pour it. Your child may think pouring cold water on his head or face feels great, but it will not make him more hydrated.

In addition, parents should consider these workout tips during warm weather months:

◆Schedule workouts for the cooler times of the day.

◆Allow overweight or out-of-shape kids time to adjust to the heat.

◆Schedule timed water and rest breaks every 30 minutes during activities. During these breaks, require kids to drink fluids. This also gives the coach or trainer a chance to monitor the athletes.

◆Have shade, ice, and a kiddie pool available for emergency treatment and rapid cooling.

◆Athletes should wear hats with brims and light-colored, breathable clothing, if possible.

◆Parents of children with asthma should closely monitor their children. Exercise is often a trigger for attacks, and outdoor air quality can also be a factor.

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