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Summer Heat Safety for Student-Athletes

heat illness

As summer heats up and temperatures get warmer, it is important to take precautions and protect yourself from heat illness while exercising outdoors. Extremely high temperatures put athletes at an increased risk for heat illness and knowing the steps for prevention can help keep you safe.

When to exercise

  • Avoid the midday sun by exercising before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., if possible
  • If you must exercise in the middle of the day, try to do it in shady areas
  • When exercising in high heat and humidity, rest 10 minutes for every hour

What to wear

  • Wear lightweight and breathable clothing
  • Avoid dark clothing
  • Change wet clothing frequently
  • Wear sunscreen. A sunburn can make it harder for your body to cool itself

Staying hydrated

  • Maintain your hydration level from day-to-day throughout your exercise activities. Do not start off these activities dehydrated.
  • The best way to monitor your hydration is to monitor your weight. While wearing minimal clothes without any shoes and socks, weigh yourself daily to ensure that your weight is not fluctuating.
  • Weighing yourself daily during consistent exercise or practice allows you to monitor if you are over-hydrating, which is just as big of a problem as under-hydrating.
  • Water is an adequate source of hydration for 1-2 hours of activity, but sometimes athletes are more likely to hydrate with a commercial sports drink because it has a taste to it.
  • For student-athletes doing a lot of hard exercise, or having a hard practice, it is beneficial to have a recovery drink within 30 minutes of the activity. Chocolate milk is a great source because of its excellent ratio of fats and sugars, and hydration benefits.
  • Make sure that your student-athlete is acclimated to the heat prior to having to practice or exercise under warmer conditions.

Heat stroke signs and symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Poor concentration
  • Flushed skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

If you develop any of these heat stroke symptoms, you must take steps to lower your body temperature and get hydrated immediately. Stop exercising right away and get out of the heat. Cool your body down by removing extra clothing or equipment. Sit in a tub of cold water or place wet towels or ice pack on your neck, forehead and under your arms. Continue to drink fluids. If your condition gets worse or you do not start to feel better, seek medical attention or speak with your healthcare provider.


This article has been clinically reviewed by Greg Canty, MD Sports Medicine Physician

Learn more about the Children's Mercy Sports Medicine Center