About 41,000 Frederick County students are back in school this week, and that means they’re back to school-sponsored activities from football, and field hockey to soccer and marching band.
If your kids are participating in these late summer activities, it’s extremely important for you and them to know how to exercise safely when the temperatures soar.
According to a report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 40 high school football players have died from heat stroke since 1995. Five of those deaths occurred just last year. Dozens more athletes are hospitalized due to heat-related illness.
The solution is as simple as staying hydrated, but even that can be tricky. By the time your child realizes he or she is thirsty, dehydration has already set in. It’s important to get ahead of the game by hydrating before, during and after practices or events.
Safe Kids Worldwide offers the following recommendations for preventing dehydration in children:
- Drink water 30 minutes before activity begins.
- Encourage mandatory fluid breaks every 15-20 minutes throughout play. Don’t wait for your child to tell you he or she is thirsty.
- Drink fluids after physical activity to make up for fluid loss.
How much water does your child need? For specific recommendations it’s best to talk to your doctor, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says during the practice or event, an 88-pound child needs about five ounces of water for every 20 minutes of activity. For comparison, a 132-pound adolescent needs about nine ounces during the same 20-minute activity.
If you’re worried your child isn’t getting enough water, you can use urine color as a guide for hydration status. If his or her urine is light (like lemonade), your child is probably hydrated. If it’s dark (like apple juice), he or she probably needs more fluids.
As a parent, you may want to review this dehydration guide (PDF) from Safe Kids Worldwide with your child’s coaches. It includes signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke along with how to respond to each condition.