Heat illnesses can be prevented for spring athletes
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), exertional heatstroke (EHS) is the leading cause of preventable death in high school sports.
Kenny Henderson, Executive Director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, feels it’s a good topic to touch on this week as spring sports seasons start to heat up, coinciding with the hottest months of Louisiana weather.
Student-athletes participating in high-intensity, long-duration or repeated same-day sports practices and training activities during the spring or summer months or other hot-weather days are at the greatest risk, and while football has received the most attention because of the number and severity of exertional heat illnesses, many athletes that participate in South Louisiana sports practice outdoors. As a result, many of those athletes are subjected to potential heat illnesses.
Heat acclimatization and safety priorities that the NFHS has set forth are listed below:
• Recognize that EHS is the leading preventable cause of death among high school students.
• Know the importance of a formal pre-season heat acclimatization plan.
• Know the importance of having and implementing a specific hydration plan, keeping your athletes well hydrated, and encouraging and providing ample opportunities for regular fluid replacement.
• Know the importance of appropriately modifying activities in relation to the environmental heat stress and contributing individual risk factors (i.e., illness, obesity) to keep your athletes safe and performing well.
• Know the importance for all members of the coaching staff to closely monitor all athletes during practice and training in the heat, and recognize the signs and symptoms of developing heat illnesses.
• Know the importance of, and resources for, establishing an emergency action play and promptly implementing it in case of suspected EHS or other medical emergency.
Please note that there is no “one-size-fits-all” optimal acclimatization plan; however, the NFHS has put together a free online course for coaches entitled “A Guide to Heat Acclimatization and Heat Illness Prevention.” The Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) highly encourages all of its member school coaches to take advantage of this free online course to familiarize themselves with this issue and to help prevent heat illness and heat stroke among their student-athletes.
For more information about NFHS online courses, visit www.nfhslearn.com.
You can also learn more about the LHSAA at www.lhsaa.org or to connect via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.
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