How to beat the summer heat for coaches and tournament operators

This summer is already record setting hot. Which means you need the tools to protect your players, your staff and yourself. 

Exertional heat stroke (EHS) is one of the leading causes of sudden death in sport. However, it is 100% preventable and 100% treatable.

Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS):  The two main criteria for diagnosing EHS are central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction—e.g. irrational behavior, irritability, emotional instability, altered consciousness, collapse, coma, dizziness—and a rectal temperature above 104°F immediately following a player collapsing.

PREVENT: Keep everyone safe by preventing a situation where EHS is likely to occur.

  1. Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is what matters:
    • Rely on your AT to monitor the “wet bulb globe temperature”. Air temp, heat index and “feels like” measurements are not accurate enough to assess the situation. The WBGT accounts for the air temp, relative humidity, wind speed and solar radiation. 
  1. Modify:  The WBGT determines the activity level–when it’s too high, steps must be taken to mitigate the risk:
    • Decrease activity time and increase rest time
    • Move from artificial turf to grass
    • Schedule activities early or late in the day when WBGT tend to be lower
    • Find a shadier side of the field
    • Run non-contact drills to allow players to take off their equipment 
    • Provide longer breaks so players can remove equipment and cool-off.
    • Cancel! If it’s too hot to participate, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

PREPARE:  Before your event, prepare for exertional heat illness.

  1.  Communicate:  
    • Instruct parents/participants to pack extra cold water.
    • Inform parents/participants that there will be extended breaks to cool down.  
    • Coordinate a plan with your athletic trainer. ATs are exertional heat illness specialists.  
    • Know the signs–see attached for full list.
  1. Life-Saving Equipment: Supply your athletic trainer with the tools they need to save  lives.

ACT:  In the event of EHS, the protocol is COOL then TRANSPORT.  

  1. Call 911 – Call EMS while the Athletic Trainer treats the patient
  2. Cool
    • The goal is to decrease the person’s core body temperature as fast as possible by submerging them in ice water while keeping their head and neck above the water line.  Water temp should be between 36oF – 50°F.
    • Oscillate – You may be asked to help stir the water around the person to ensure that cold water is surrounding them at all times.
    • Remove – When instructed, help the AT remove the patient from the water when their rectal temperature is between 101°F-102°F.
  3. Transport
    • When the patient has been sufficiently cooled, transport them via ambulance to the nearest hospital for further assessment. 

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