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Heat & Your Young Athlete

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I just can’t keep quiet anymore, it is just too hot in much of the country to allow students to play football, band, cheerleading, cross country or any other activity that requires being outdoors.

I have already seen more than a handful of my own patients who have come in complainting of fainting, nausea, and fatigue. Despite the fact that most of these adolescents are “in good shape”, no one is ready for this kind of heat. The actual temps are over 105 degrees, and the heat index is actually even higher!!  The news (both on air, on line and in print) proclaims “Dangerous Heat” while they talk about watching out for our neighbors, our pets and the elderly. What about our children??

This is crazy!!  Are we all willing to risk a life (there have already been deaths reported), just for the sake of sports and the rules that allow students to begin practice 3 weeks prior to school starting. Rather, the rules should state that if the heat is “dangerously high”, then all of these silly outside activities for students will be cancelled. Putting students on a field to exercise is equally as risky as putting students on buses during inclement weather. Schools cancel classes for bad weather and I think that this is BAD WEATHER!!  It is beyond bad, it is oppressive, unhealthy and has been and will be deadly.

If administrators are not willing to make the call, then parents need to step up and speak out.  Tell the coaches that you are not allowing your children to participate until the heat stops. We are not talking professional sports (where most are playing in climate controlled stadiums too); these are students whose biggest job is going to school.  This is not the Olympics. These are extracurricular activities, which while important, are not worth risking lives.

The heat will stop, and activities can resume when it does. Until then, we need to head the warnings and do everything we can to prevent this heat from causing heat related illnesses and even deaths. Speak up!

What do you think? I would love your thoughts!

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