Dehydration and youth sports: curb the risk
Anytime children or adolescents play sports or exercise in hot weather, they’re at risk of heat-related illnesses. Understand how heat-related problems happen and what steps you can take to prevent them.
Risk factors for dehydration
Your child might be vulnerable to dehydration and other heat-related illnesses in a hot or humid environment if he or she:
Wears clothing or protective gear that contributes to excessive heat retention
Is overweight or obese
Is sick or had a recent illness, especially involving diarrhea, vomiting or a fever
Is taking certain supplements or medications, such as cold medicine
Has had a previous heat-related illness
Has a chronic condition, such as diabetes
Acclimating to the heat
Heat-related problems are most likely within the first few days of practice in a hot environment. That’s why it’s best to take it easy at first, gradually increasing the amount of activity — and the amount of protective equipment — as the days pass. Young athletes might need up to two weeks to safely acclimate to the heat.
During hot and humid conditions, coaches are encouraged to:
Require young athletes to drink plenty of fluids before practice and during regular beverage breaks — even if they aren’t thirsty
Make sure clothing is light colored, lightweight and loosefitting, or exposes as much of the skin as possible
Decrease or stop practices or competitions if necessary, or move them indoors or to a shady area