Fall sports practices are underway in Oklahoma but the weather is still very much summer. As the continues to bake the state, the American Red Cross urges safety first for fitness enthusiasts and athletes as the temperatures remain hot.
SAFETY FOR ATHLETES Avoid workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day – schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening. Other ways to stay safe include:
- Get acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of your workouts or exercise until you are more accustomed to the heat.
- Take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes for fluids and try to stay in the shade.
- Many school athletes attend summer camps at this time of the year. Those in charge should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather.
- Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.
- Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
- Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well.
DANGER SIGNS Knowing the signs of heat-related emergencies and how to help someone who is suffering from the heat is important.
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. If someone is experiencing heat cramps:
- Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Stretching, massaging and icing the affected muscle may help.
- sGive a half glass of cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.
Heat exhaustion is caused by a combination of exercise induced heat and fluid and electrolyte loss from sweating. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. To help someone with these symptoms:
- Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing. Spray him or her with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in his or her condition.
- If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
Heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.
- Signs of heat stroke include those of heat exhaustion and hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; change or loss of consciousness; seizures; vomiting; and high body temperature.
- Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. If unable to immerse them, continue rapid cooling by applying bags of ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits, spraying with water and/or fanning.
For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, visit redcross.org, download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist, or download the free Red Cross First Aid App. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
Learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.
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