Summertime is here! The weather’s warm, the grass is green and you’ve got practices to get to. If your child is involved in any summer sports, here are a few safety tips to ensure a happy and healthy summer sports season.
1. Make sure youth athletes are properly hydrated BEFORE practices/games.
Dehydration should be a concern all year round, but it’s especially easy for youth athletes to get dehydrated in the summertime. When temperatures are hotter, our bodies have to work harder to maintain a reasonable core body temperature and we sweat more to help stay cool. The more you sweat the more water you need to drink to replenish the lost fluids. Playing catch-up is never a good idea when it comes to staying hydrated so the best defense is a good offense. Make sure your player is hydrated BEFORE they step on the field.
2. Learn the symptoms of and how to handle heat-related illnesses.
Heat illnesses can vary in severity, ranging from exhaustion to a potentially fatal heatstroke. Some symptoms of heat illnesses include:
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Slowed or weakened heartbeat.
If you suspect a youth athlete might be suffering from heat exhaustion, it’s important to get them cooled off quickly and rehydrated. Let them rest in a shaded spot (or air-conditioned car), place a cool cloth on their forehead and make sure they have plenty to drink. If their symptoms persist or get worse, send for medical help.
3. Lather up on sunscreen (and don’t forget to reapply).
The summer sun can be especially harsh on newly exposed skin, so be sure you load up on sunscreen before your youth athlete steps onto the field. In addition to arms, shoulders and legs make sure you get the back of the neck and ears, spots that are often missed. If your daughter likes to braid her hair for practices and game, add a little sunscreen on her part so her scalp doesn’t burn. And don’t forget to reapply every few hours. Sunscreen applied at 8 a.m. probably isn’t going to make it through an all-day tournament.
4. Avoid holding practices in the middle of the day.
This is one for coaches — if at all possible try to have practices in the morning or later in the afternoon and avoid the hottest part of the day. No one likes to practice when it’s 90 degrees outside, so practicing a little earlier or later makes it a lot easier for your players (not to mention you).