AUM athletics trainer lists ways to combat heat related illness

Heat safety tips for high school athletes

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - High school football players are back on the practice field preparing for the upcoming season.

Before any game kicks off, the players are already up against a tough opponent - the heat.

The rising temperatures can take a toll on their bodies.

“We need to be intentional, gradual, and progressive in the way we introduce activity,” said Ian Rogol, AUM Athletics Trainer.

Rogol is the Assistant Athletic Director of Athletics for Health and Well Being for Auburn University at Montgomery. He says parents need to prepare their children for a day of practice in the heat.

“We really want to make sure they are staying hydrated, making sure we get a good, strong breakfast in them, again a nice, adequate, nutritious lunch, with good fluids," he said. "We want to stay away form the caffeinated sodas, we want to stay away from some of the carbonation. We want to stay away form those products during the day because those are not setting us up for success. We want to make sure we are taking in water.”

The body can become dehydrated in just 20 minutes once temperatures reach 80 degrees. The warning signs include:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Thirst
  • Being irritable
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

“Our more severe cases of heat illness occur when the individual stops sweating,” Rogol said.

Rogol said encourage your child at the first sign of a symptom to alert a coach or athletic trainer.

“It’s imperative that the student athlete or individual who is experiencing some of these symptoms communicate with an adult, communicates with somebody that says, ‘Hey, I’m starting to feel dizzy. Hey I’m having a headache. Hey, these things are going on’ to make sure we understand these things," he said. "It’s imperative that they have this information. If we don’t have that information, we are never going to be able to give the proper assistance.”

AUM athletic trainers use cold immersion tanks to help cool down athletes who are overheating; if you don’t have access to one, Rogol says there are other options.

“You can use a small kiddie pool that you fit with water, again you are going to need access to ice," he said. "So, you are going to need ice at some of these practices. Another thing you can use, and we’ve done it before, you can lay out a tarp, lay them in the tarp. Put water and ice in the tarp, where we sort of wrap them up in it. Again, as much water and cold exposure we can give that athlete who is overheating, the better chance we have at survival. So, we really want to make sure we cool them as fast as we can to drop that core body temp.”

Rogol says prevention is key, so, again, make sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during, and after practice.

He advises weighing your child before and after practice. If your child weighs less after, then they did not have enough to drink during practice.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association has heat timeouts during the first few weeks of the season. It includes a one minute timeout at or near the mid-point of each quarter.

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