Oh the Weather Outside Is… Way too Hot!

SweatingWhile the weather in Boston is cooling down, temperatures in other parts of the United States have hit an all time high. This may be the longest heat wave in history for some states, and the record highs just don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was deeply saddened to read about the high school football players in Georgia and South Carolina whose recent deaths are believed to be related to heat exhaustion. These students were apparently practicing outdoors in over 100 degree weather and suddenly collapsed. Heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect anyone who is in a situation where the body becomes hyperthermic (too hot). It can happen to guys and girls, young and old. Most young people who suffer from heat exhaustion become ill while doing intense physical activity during which their body sweats a lot and loses too much fluid – which causes dehydration. It can happen even more quickly when the environmental temperature is hot. The thing is that heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration CAN BE PREVENTED.

Here’s how:

Keep your body cool:

  • Exercise or practice in the early morning or late evening. DON’T spend time outside doing intense physical activity during the hottest times of the day or any time during the day if temperatures are unhealthy.
  • If it’s hot outside suggest having a lighter or shorter practice and find shade.
  • If you’re going to camp or you’ll be away from home, plan ahead and take appropriate gear with you. Also, if you’re not used to heavy workouts or practices, work your way up to a reasonable amount of time. Don’t overdo it.
  • Rest frequently, and if you are wearing a helmet, take if off when you take a break and then put it back on before going back into the activity.

Keep hydrated:

  • Drink water often regularly. Don’t wait until you become thirsty, as this is a sign of dehydration.
  • If you’re practicing hard and sweating a lot your body will likely need more than water to replace electrolytes when you sweat a lot. Consider drinking a sports drink.
  • When you’re well hydrated your urine is almost clear. It becomes darker yellow and more concentrated when the body is becoming dehydrated. This is one way to tell if you need to drink more fluids.

Take care of your body in general:

  • Be sure to feed your body healthy food. Eat 3 meals a day and healthy snacks in between to keep your energy up. Don’t drink alcohol, soda, coffee or other drinks with caffeine, especially when you’re physically active.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight. Sudden weight gain or weight loss can put a lot of stress on your body.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion and other heat-related conditions and what to do:

  • Confusion – you can’t remember simple things/routine tasks
  • Irritablility– you and/or others notice that you’re on edge
  • Anger – you’re easily frustrated, may lash out to others inappropriately
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feel off balance or dizzy
  • Fatigue – more than usual after physical activity
  • Chills – goose bumps and shivering even when it is extremely hot outside

Important! If you or someone you see have any of the symptoms listed above:

  1. STOP the activity you are doing right away and tell your coach or an adult how you are feeling.
  2. Get out of the sun and into the shade.
  3. Drink fluid (water or a sports drink).
  4. See your health care provider or go to the closest emergency room.

– Phaedra