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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Sports Safety for Summer
      Category : Health Centers > Exercise and Fitness

Sports Safety for Summer

Sports safety for summer focuses on guidelines for playing it safe in summertime heat and humidity.

What is the information for this topic?

As the weather warms up, outdoor sports become more popular. Here are 10 tips that can help people lessen the likelihood of injury and boost enjoyment.

1. Condition the body.

Before jumping into summer sports, the body needs conditioning. Starting slowly helps build endurance.

2. Warm up.

Before exercise, it is important to warm up the muscles for at least 10 minutes. Warm-up involves doing a gentle, repetitive activity such as brisk walking or gentle bike riding. These activities increase the blood flow to muscles, ligaments, and tendons and make them more pliable. Warming up before sports helps prevent sprained, strained, pulled, and torn muscles.

3. Take heat precautions.

As exercise increases body temperature, a person sweats. If the sweat evaporates, the body cools down. But in climates with high humidity, evaporation cannot occur. Blood gets diverted from the muscles to the skin. That reduces blood volume, and dehydration can happen very quickly. If sweating continues, the body can lose too much water and electrolytes, and the result is salt imbalance. Heat precautions include the following:

  • Slowly acclimate to summer heat by doing only 50% of a normal workout the first day. Each day afterward, add 10% onto the workout until it can be fully completed by the sixth day. This is especially advisable when hotter, more humid weather arrives quickly.
  • Take steps to prevent heat emergencies. This can be done by exercising during cooler periods of the day, seeking out shade, and drinking water often.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to replace the fluids lost from sweating. Dehydration should not be taken lightly. A mere 3% loss of body weight from dehydration has been shown to greatly reduce muscle endurance. As little as 4% can greatly reduce muscle strength.
  • Choose sports drinks to help replace lost electrolytes to help prevent salt imbalance. These drinks also help prevent hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
  • 4. Choose safe summer camps for children.

    Camps must meet state safety standards to operate; however, there are no federal requirements. Although serious injuries or deaths must be reported to the state health department, it's difficult to gain access to state records to learn which camps were involved. The American Camping Association (ACA) accredits camps that meet 80% of the association's 300 safety and health standards. Only 30 of these 300 standards are legally mandatory. The ACA offers parents a list of suggested questions to ask camp directors for guidance on choosing a camp and also has a list of accredited camps.

    5. Practice safe sports.

    Appropriate use of protective equipment is important.

  • Helmets are important insurance against head injuries and neck injuries. A helmet should be worn while riding a bike, motorcycle, or horse. A helmet should also be worn during any activity in which a person might fall at a high rate of speed. Helmets should not be tilted back. They should be placed high on the head to protect the frontal lobes of the brain.
  • As well as a helmet, skateboarders and skaters should wear protective pads on knees and elbows.
  • Falling correctly should be practiced. It is safest to roll with a fall. A person should try to relax. Stiffening up just makes things worse. The arms should not be used to break a fall.
  • 6. Plan for water safety.

    Water safety guidelines can help prevent drowning and near drowning accidents.

  • Swimming pools should be surrounded by childproof barriers. There should be nonskid surfaces around the pool. A slip can cause a concussion or back injury.
  • No one should swim alone or go deeper than his or her swimming ability allows. The depth of the water should always be checked. Before diving, a person should look for hidden obstacles.
  • Powerboat accidents claim hundreds of lives each year. Injuries can result when a boat capsizes or when someone falls inside the boat. Waterskiing mishaps and boat collisions also are causes of injuries.
  • When sailboating, a person should watch out for the heavy metal bar at the bottom of the sail known as the boom. Anyone in the way when the boom swings can suffer head and neck injuries or be knocked overboard.
  • Before going out in a boat, a person should find out how capable and experienced the captain is.
  • Life jackets should be worn in all boats.
  • 7. Watch for signs of heat emergencies

    It is important to learn the signs of medical emergencies that can be caused by summertime heat and humidity.

  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion include lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, irritability, and moist, clammy skin. A person who has any of these symptoms should move to a cool, shaded area and drink lots of water. A towel dipped in ice water can be used to cool the body further.
  • Heatstroke is a medical emergency marked by flushed skin, no sweat, and a body temperature higher than 106 degrees Farenheit. Medical help should be sought right away if a person has signs of heatstroke.
  • 8.Choose the right clothing.

    Loose-fitting, loosely woven clothing of light colors are best. Dark colors absorb the sun's heat.

    9. Avoid alcohol.

    Alcohol lowers the body's tolerance for heat. It dehydrates the body and has many long-term effects such as brain degeneration, confusion, memory loss, and muscle damage. Studies have shown that even a single bottle of beer can affect a person's ability to run in hot weather.

    10. Treat heat cramps properly.

    Heat cramps occur in voluntary muscles, such as the calf. They are often the first sign of dehydration and salt imbalance. To treat heat cramps, drink lightly salted fluids (a quarter teaspoon of salt per cup of fluid) and massage the cramped area.

    Author: Dr. Karen Wolfe, MBBS, MA
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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