America's Healthy Summer: Avoid Heat-Related Illness in Student Athletes

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Parents and student athletes should make sure that their school implements an acclimatization program. This is where, over a period of 14 days, athletes gradually build up their heat tolerance.

Under such a program, students would practice the first day without a helmet or protective clothing, which interferes with sweating and heat loss.

The following tips are from guidelines set by the National Athletic Trainers' Association:

Allow two- to three-hour rest periods at meal times and make sure athletes drink proper fluids.

Athletes who are at a high risk for heat-related illness should be weighed before and after practice to determine how much body water they've lost.

Teach coaches and athletes about heat-related illness and proper hydration.

Encourage athletes to sleep at least six to eight hours a night in a cool environment.

Develop event and practice guidelines and education materials for hot, humid weather.

Check environmental conditions before and during practice or competition, and make decisions about the intensity of activity and number of rest/hydration breaks based upon the severity of the conditions.

Reduce the amount of equipment and clothing worn by the athlete in hot or humid conditions, and minimize warm-up times whenever possible.

Allow athletes to practice, or at least rest, in shaded areas.

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