Heat illness is avoidable

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Summer football has arrived for Beaufort County high schools. Washington and Northside have gotten back on the gridiron while Southside is waiting to get its athletes back after this weekend’s state championship track meet.

With that, as well as miscellaneous youth summer camps being right around the corner, it’s important to revisit the keys of staying safe and healthy while working under the hot summer sun.

Of course, one of the first priorities should be staying hydrated. According to studies done by the University of Connecticut, over half of summer sports campers experience dehydration and over 25 percent of them suffer from it seriously. Signs include loss of strength and stamina, light-headedness, thirst and darker urine.

The tricky part is that dehydration is something that an athlete often doesn’t notice until it’s too late. Even if the temperatures outside are mild, water breaks should be taken every 15 to 30 minutes, according to USAFootball.com. Coaches should offer water breaks frequently and should treat them as neither a reward nor a punishment.

More over, one needs to be sure to drink water well before and after practices. Sports drinks are also useful, especially when it comes to replenishing electrolytes.

When temperatures rise to sizzling heights, as they often do during eastern North Carolina summers, it may be advisable to take practices and camps indoors. No matter the sport, there are always skills and exercises that can be done in a gym. Practices and camps can be productive on absurdly hot days without being dangerous.

Finally, take breaks in cooler areas. Whether it’s inside or under the shade of a tree, relaxing in a cooler area will help the body cool down better. With football specifically, it’s also important to let the players take off equipment. Helmets and pads act as insulators, making athletes stay warmer and cool down slower during breaks.

Heat illness is completely avoidable. Staying alert and aware of it will help Beaufort County’s athletes safe while they hone their skills this summer.