To keep kids in top shape for sports, it’s important for them to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Dehydration occurs when a body loses more water than it takes in (such as through sweating). When kids don’t drink enough water while playing sports, they could be at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
Bring a Water Bottle and Take Regular Breaks
- Make sure athletes have a water bottle for every practice and game.
- Make sure athletes drink fluids (water is the best option) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Drinking water after play is equally important.
- Establish mandatory water breaks throughout practices and games – don’t wait for a child to tell you he or she is thirsty.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
- The severity of dehydration can vary from mild to more life threatening if left unchecked. There are three levels of dehydration: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
- Symptoms range from muscle cramping in the calves, back, arms or abdomen (heat cramps) to faintness or dizziness, nausea and rapid heartbeat (heat exhaustion) to collapse, emotional instability and very high body temperature (heatstroke).
Respond Appropriately to Signs of Heat Illness
- If an athlete is dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911 if his or her condition doesn’t improve or worsens.
- Move the athlete to shade and cool the body with cold water. Have the athlete drink cool water, remove any equipment and excess clothing and lie down, raising his or her legs about 8-12 inches.
- Make sure the athlete gets checked out by a doctor or medical personnel and is cleared before returning to play.
- If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately and make every effort to cool the athlete.
- Treat heatstroke victims right away by immersing them in cold water before the ambulance arrives. If immersion is not an option, soak the child with cold water from a shower, hose or soaking towel.
This information was provided by Safe Kids Worldwide. For more information on keeping kids healthy and safe go to www.safekids.org.