Know when to slow down — or call it quits
To determine when heat and humidity make strenuous exercise risky for young athletes, your child's coach might monitor the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) — the standard index of temperature and humidity combined. If the WBGT is too high, outdoor athletic activities might need to be limited or canceled.
Spotting dehydration and other heat-related problems
Even mild dehydration can affect your child's athletic performance and make him or her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Encourage your child to pay attention to early signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Excessive fatigue
Remind your child that he or she is responsible for reporting these signs and symptoms to the coach right away. Don't let embarrassment keep your child on the field. If dehydration is detected early, fluids and rest might be all that's needed. If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.
Prevention is key
If your child plays sports in hot weather, encourage him or her to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after practices and games. Teach your child the signs and symptoms of dehydration, as well as the importance of speaking up if they occur. Involve your child's coach, too. Talk to the coach about adjusting the intensity of practice depending on the temperature and humidity on the field — and support the coach's decision to cancel games and practices when it's dangerously hot outside.
Aug. 20, 2011
See more In-depth
- Howe AS, et al. Heat-related illness in athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2007;35:1384.
- Greydanus DE, et al. Caring For Your Teenager. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2003:442.
- Parents' and coaches' guide to dehydration and other heat illnesses in children. National Athletic Trainers' Association. http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/Heat-Illness-Parent-Coach-Guide.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2011.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Heat illness among high school athletes — United States, 2005-2009. MMWR. 2010;59:1009. Accessed March 1, 2011.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and Council on School Health. Policy statement — Climactic heat stress and exercising children and adolescents. Pediatrics. In press. Accessed Aug. 3, 2011.