Young athletes can suffer serious heat-related illness, injury

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2022 | Personal injury |

As grade schoolers through college students head back to school, many are required to engage in some kind of sports activity in the scorching sun and heat. Football players practicing for the upcoming season often have it the worst because of the heavy equipment they have to wear. 

However, any kind of exertion, like running, playing tennis or shooting hoops in the heat, puts kids in danger of suffering heat-related medical conditions or injuries caused by dizziness, weakness and other symptoms of these conditions. Some young athletes have even died from heat-related conditions. 

Student athletes, including cheerleaders, need to be carefully supervised by coaches and trainers. They need to take steps to prevent these conditions and spot the signs of heat stress and other issues in time to get kids out of the heat and provide first aid.

Recognizing and treating the early signs is critical

Trainers, coaches, teachers, parents and young athletes of all ages need to be able to recognize signs of heat-related illness in themselves and others. Besides dizziness and weakness, which we mentioned, the initial signs include:

  • Headache
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting

A doctor with Johns Hopkins Medicine says that when someone displays those signs, coaches and trainers should “pull them out of the game or practice, ask them how they are feeling, give them some water and cool them down” with cold compresses and ice. These and plenty of hydrating beverages should be immediately available. 

He also notes that it’s important for athletes to gradually increase the time and intensity of their activity in the heat over the course of a couple of weeks rather than “get out there too quickly, do too much [when they] are not acclimated to the weather….”

Who has liability when something goes wrong?

In some cases, coaches have been held criminally responsible after a student died after prolonged physical exertion in high temperatures. Coaches and other school employees are more commonly held civilly liable when a young athlete suffers harm because proper precautions are not taken to protect them from heat-related medical illness and injury. 

If your child has suffered harm while practicing their sport, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance to determine your best course of action.