Heat and humidity stressing high school athletes

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - School is back in full swing for most students and with it comes the return of fall sports. We’ve got football, tennis, cross-country, golf, band and cheerleading all underway. And these sports have one thing in common: they are outside.

While fall is right around the corner, we all know that doesn’t mean the temperatures are going to be cooling off just yet. Which means our young athletes are dealing with the heat and humidity every time they head out for practices and games, matches and meets.

When it’s hot and humid outside the risk for heat related illness goes up. Heat is the leading cause of death or disability among high school athletes according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But it’s not just about how high the temperature is. Humidity plays a big role as well.

Sweat and Humidity
Sweat and Humidity(Fox Carolina)

Dew points are a measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. When dew points are above 60 degrees, which is very typical in late summer and early fall here, the body’s ability to cool itself by sweating is reduced. The sweat doesn’t evaporate off the skin, so it lingers make you feel warmer and more sticky, which in turn causes you to sweat more. This all leads to the body losing more fluid. The more dehydrated you become, the higher the risk for heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat Related Illness Signs
Heat Related Illness Signs(Fox Carolina)

So it’s important for student athletes and coaches to know the sign of these illnesses, so they can keep themselves and their teammates safe as they hit the turf, the court or the trail.

There are some ways you can keep your student athletes safe this season.

Athletes should consume six to ten ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise. So coaches and supervisors should be encouraging frequent water breaks on hot days.

If practice is longer than an hour, add in sports drinks, as well as water, to help replace electrolytes.

Keep the drinks cold. When it’s hot outside, cold drinks are 50% more likely to be consumed than warm ones.

Remove unnecessary equipment when it’s extremely hot. Obviously, if it’s a safety concern, don’t lose the padding and helmets, but during non-contact drills on very hot days, less gear means the athletes are stay cooler.

And make sure the athletes are wearing light-colored, lightweight clothing that protects again the sun.

Tips for Athletes to Stay Safe in the Heat
Tips for Athletes to Stay Safe in the Heat(Fox Carolina)