New Guidelines for Student Athletes Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Health & Wellness on 08.09.11


As schools gear up for the fall sports season, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers -- for the first time in more than a decade -- new guidelines for preventing heat-related injuries.

The previous guidelines, released 11 years ago according to The Chart on, suggested that students were "less able to tolerate and adapt to heat stress compared with adults," while the new ones allow that children and grownups to deal with heat equally well. The former policy also laid out specific instructions for cancelling athletic events and training sessions depending on the temperature (the new one simply advises it instead of requiring it). 

The authors used the new guidelines as an opportunity to remind parents and coaches of other important safety tips -- like encouraging students to dress appropriately, avoid dehydration, and rest for at least two hours between practices and games. 

"Most healthy children and athletes can safely participate in outdoor sports and activities in a wide range of warm to hot weather, but adults sometimes create situations that are potentially dangerous," said co-author Dr. Stephen G. Rice.

Other recommendations from the policy statement include:

  • Providing risk-reduction training for coaches, trainers and other adults.
  • Ensuring trained staff are available on-site to monitor for and promptly treat heat illness.
  • Allowing children to gradually adapt to physical activity in the heat.
  • Modifying activity as needed given the heat and limitations of individual athletes. Practices and games may need to be canceled or rescheduled to cooler times.
  • Limiting participation of children who have had a recent illness or have other risk factors that would reduce exercise-heat tolerance.

How does your school keep its student athletes safe in the heat?

More from The Chart on

Photo: cliff1066/Creative Commons 

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