HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION GUIDELINES
Risk of heat illness poses a very serious problem for athletes and must be accorded the appropriate level of concern and consideration. Heat illness is the one form of athletic injury/illness that is absolutely preventable, and yet every summer brings reported instances of heat in athletes. Severe heat illness is a medical emergency and can produce permanent disability or death.
MAC recognizes that prevention is the best way to deal with heat illness. Prevention includes several key areas, including:
- A consideration for risks associated with exercising in hot, humid environmental conditions.
- The need for gradual acclimatization over a 3 to 14 day period.
- The need for athletes to progressively increase the intensity and duration of work in the heat with a combination of strenuous interval training and continuous exercise.
- The fact that well-acclimatized athletes should only train for 1-2 hours per practice session under the climate conditions that will be present during their competitive events.
- The realization that “proper hydration” must be attended to throughout the day, not just during activity sessions. Athletes need to drink water throughout the day.
Hydration Requirement Guidelines
Athletes must be hydrated prior to the beginning of each activity session, and then maintain those hydration levels throughout the session. Methods for assuring compliance with hydration requirements are dependent upon complete cooperation of parents and athletes. These requirements must be followed each time an athlete engages in vigorous activity
- To assure proper pre-activity hydration, athletes should consume at least 17-20 oz. of water or a sports drink 2-3 hours before the start of the activity session, and another 7-10 oz. within 10-20 minutes before the start of the session.
- During activity, athletes should consume at least 7-10 oz. of fluid every 10-20 minutes.
- Post-activity hydration should attempt to replace all fluid lost during the session within 2 hours. The best way to assure compliance is for the athlete to weigh before and after the session. Replacement of lost fluid is accomplished by returning to pre-session weight. Low fat chocolate milk and/or low sugar energy drinks/bars are options here.
- Carbonated and caffeinated beverages interfere with hydration and must be avoided.
- Hydration requirements vary between athletes, based upon a number of factors. Certain athletes may be particularly susceptible to heat illness due to pre-existing conditions or medical history. Athletes and parents must rely upon their family physician and/or the school athletic trainer for guidance on these issues.
- Heat illness is not unique to “outdoor” activities, and can occur “indoors” under certain circumstances. Follow hydration guidelines for all activity sessions!
Final note, these hydration requirement guidelines are recommended for our coaches as well. In addition it is recommended that coaches where spf rash guards and get in the water frequently, use sunscreen and wear proper headwear to protect from the sun