As summer begins to dwindle down and schools start up again, so do fall sports and practices. I was raised on the Sunbelt, in “HOTlanta”, Georgia to be specific, and I have had my fair share of outdoor practices.
For me, when school started up again, so did cheerleading, and although we did have summer practices, most were spent outside because of the dire heat. When August rolled around we were expected to run, yell, cheer, dance, and stunt in the Southern heat.
I began to wonder, what are some ways to beat the heat while playing sports? I asked Jeffrey Pellegrino, Ph.D, MPH, who’s a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and chair of its education board.
He said even we head into September and the temperatures start to cool down, the sun’s rays are still just as potent—so take care of yourself.
Here are our tips to stay safe in the sun while you’re at practice or a game:
- Remember to stay hydrated and well-nourished! Being back in school sports means that you’re probably exerting more energy exercising, learning and socializing than you were while relaxing over summer vacation. With that being said, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, before, during and after practice, and have a snack to keep your energy up! Pro tip: salty snacks help maintain electrolytes and reduce chances of hyponatremia, a medical condition that occurs due to low sodium.
- Consider your uniform. If you’re sports uniform requires thick and heavy layers, take extra precautions to hydrate yourself more. The extra insulation can make you sweat more and lose more fluids, which may cause you to get dehydrated easier.
- Look out for your fellow teammates. If someone looks like they’re getting overheated, help them out by getting them to a cooler area and slowly drinking water. For the signs of heat-related illness check out this . If a teammate passes out or starts acting strange, call 9-1-1 immediately. This is life threatening.
- Protect your face and eyes from the sun. If your coach or supervisor allows for hats and sunglasses, try wearing a baseball cap and UV protected glasses that will protect your face and eyes from the sun. And don’t forget your sunscreen! Use a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen of at least 15 and reapply at least every 2 hours. You want to fully protect your face since that’s in direct contact with the sun.
- Download the Red Cross First Aid App. In case someone does get sick from a heat-related illness, be sure to have the Red Cross First Aid App on your phone. Online and in-classroom training courses are available – even for coaches!