This post originally ran on June 29th…
Did you know all heat related deaths are preventable, 100% of them. Meaning every person that dies from heat illness could have been saved with some easy steps, Occam’s Razor is quite often applicable. The Korey Stringer Institute sole mission is to prevent sudden death in sports, especially as it relates to exertional heat stroke (the condition that took his life).
Heat is part of the fall and sometimes spring sporting seasons, but you should also know that heat illness can fell any time, even in the indoors during the winter months (see wrestling). With that disclaimer out-of-the-way it is time to remind everyone to begin preparations for the upcoming season of sports.
With a large portion of the nation dealing with sweltering heat these next few days (guess it was 108 in St. Louis yesterday) remember the possibility exists that our youth will be participating in these conditions. To prevent heat illness it begins with the individual preparing for the weather. Hydration, and not just 3 sodas the day before, we are talking nearly a gallon of water in a 24 hour period. The other very basic way to stem off heat illness is to simply not practice when the temps and humidity are absurd; if possible early morning or late evening times would be best if practice MUST go on that day.
Every sport will be different in terms of a threshold for discontinuation of practice; soccer players are in shorts and loose-fitting tops, baseball/softball players have a dugout to rest in, where as football is all padded up with a helmet in tight uniforms. Naturally football would be of the greatest concern, and it is.
Once the simplest forms of prevention are in place – hydration and common sense – there are other “things” you can have in place in the event of some trouble. Not only are heat related deaths preventable, taking certain actions can almost guarantee 100% recovery in the instances of exertional heat stroke.
First, coaches should be aware of signs of heat stroke (another case for a trained professional – Athletic Trainers – to be available)
Next, every school/organization should have an emergency action plan (EAP) for any possible cases; this would include movement of the patient, who calls whom, who directs traffic, who contacts parents, etc.
Part of that EAP should be total submersion of the individual suffering from heat illness (naturally leaving head above water so they can breathe). Schools don’t need to purchase large industrial tubs that cost money, we solved that problem at our school by purchasing 2 kiddie pools. Filled them with ice and had water on standby in the event of a problem. This was done every day the heat index was expected to be higher than 95.
Finally each organization MUST hammer home the importance of hydration and proper nutrition.
You can see further information about this at Mom’s Team as well;
Exertional heat stroke is one of the most preventable sports injuries. Parents of youth athletes in states with no guidelines in place or guidelines considered deficient by KSI can help prevent exertional heat stroke by advocating for adoption of heat acclimatization guidelines. Here’s how:
- Email or contact your state’s board of medicine, the state high school athletic association, and the state athletic trainers’ association. You can find your state’s association on the National Federation of State High School Associations website. Provide them a hard or PDF copy of the guidelines and explain why you support adoption in your state;
- Advocate in favor of the guidelines at the pre-season meeting of stakeholders (parents/AD/coaches);
- Advocate in favor of the guidelines at a Booster Club meeting;
- Use our Advocacy Handout.