Let’s talk heat illness and baseball/softball. Spring training is already well underway, and youth baseball and softball is just around the corner. Did you know baseball is considered one of the most dangerous youth sports? According to Stanford Children’s Health, nearly 110,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball/softball related injuries in 2009. An RIO Study over the 2013-2014 year found that heat related illness accounted for 10.1% of all baseball injuries and 18.2% of all softball injuries. And on a list of the deadliest high school sports made by the Weather Channel, boys’ softball was ranked number one. The pinnacle of baseball/softball season hits in July when temperatures are at their highest levels on average. This makes baseball/softball players more susceptible to heat related illness than other sports.
These statistics are scary for another reason. Heat related illness is like getting a concussion; it affects you for life. Once you experience a heat related illness, they occur more frequently. People who have survived a heat related illness have explained that they are more sensitive when it comes to going out in the heat and their tolerance for it has significantly decreased. If a person experiences a heat related illness as a child, the rest of their life will be plagued by reoccurrences if they are not careful. We don’t believe any child should have to be put through this, but looking at the statistics we see that it clearly is. There are many factors that go into heat related illness: temperature, humidity, sweat, health, acclimatization, amount of fluid intake, etc. It takes a person anywhere between 10 – 14 days of being out in the sun to properly acclimatize (get used to) the heat. By the time our bodies tell us we are thirsty, we are already moderately dehydrated. Finally, if someone has suffered an illness just a few days before being out in extreme heat, they are more vulnerable to heat related illness.Between the risk factors and the statistics, letting your kid go out for baseball/softball seems like the worst idea in the world. However, we’re here to help give you tools to combat the heat. First of all, the most important thing to do is to drink a lot of water. Even when you or your child is not thirsty, drink water. If you are a coach running practice, take water breaks frequently and make sure every member of the team drinks plenty. Secondly, try to make sure there’s enough shade for everyone. Shaded areas can help cool the body immensely. And finally, just remember to be aware of the symptoms of heat illness. A quick response time is the best way to conquer heat illness. Recognizing the signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or even heat cramps can save a life. (We have a list of heat stroke and heat exhaustion symptoms here: http://hotdotalert.com/blogs/news/17849592-can-you-recognize-the-difference-between-heat-stroke-and-heat-exhaustion )