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Be aware of heat illness in youth sports

May 6, 2012
By JENNY CARROLL - Salem Community Center – Center Circle , Salem News

As summer sports and warmer temperatures approach our area, parents and coaches need to remember the importance of hydration and the prevention of heat illness.

Keep in mind that children and the elderly are at an increased risk to suffer from heat illness, so identifying the risk factors early is key! Following a few simple guidelines can greatly decrease the occurrence of dehydration and heat illness in players.

Heat illnesses are the result of elevated body temperatures due to an inability to dissipate the body's heat and/or a decreased fluid level. Always remember that mild heat illnesses have the potential of becoming severe life threatening emergencies if not treated properly. Recognizing the early signs and symptoms can keep players safe and healthy throughout their respective season.

Heat exhaustion happens when one is exposed to heat for a prolonged period of time. The body may become overwhelmed by heat when its mechanism for keeping cool (sweating) breaks down. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include but are not limited to: nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, weak pulse, and disorientation.

Heat stroke, unlike heat exhaustion, strikes suddenly and with little warning. When the body's cooling system fails, the body's temperature rises quickly. Heat stroke can be life threatening. Signs of heat stroke include very high body temperature, hot, dry skin, lack of sweating, fast pulse, confusion, and possible loss of consciousness.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Illness

- Dehydration

- Headache

- Dizziness

- Muscle weakness or cramps

- Nausea and vomiting - Thirst

- Loss of Coordination

- Sweating

- Fatigue


- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.

- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella. Don't forget the sunscreen!

- Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity. Drink extra water all day. Drink less tea, coffee, and soda.

- Schedule vigorous outdoor activities for cooler times of the day - before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

During an outdoor activity, take frequent breaks and drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you have clear, pale urine, you are probably drinking enough fluids.


- Have the person rest (lying down) in the shade.

- Replace fluid with a water/salt solution. Drink slowly, drinking too much, too fast very often causes nausea and vomiting.

- Remove clothing.

- Pour water on the extremities and fan the person to increase air circulation and evaporation.

- Immersing the person in cool (not cold) water is also useful.

- Extremities should be massaged vigorously to help propel the cooled blood back into the core.

The Salem Community Center and Center Circle Indoor Sports Complex offer a climate-controlled environment year round. We also offer many leagues and camps throughout the year. For more information, visit our website at or call 330-332-5885.



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