Today’s report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 31 high school athletes have died from heat-related injuries in the past 15 years. “One death due to heat-related illness is too many,” says Michael McGeehin, director of the CDC’s Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects. “Heat-related illness is preventable. The more we know about how and when it happens, the better we can prepare people who may be most at risk.”
The study showed that 66.3 percent of heat injuries occur in August, mostly affecting football players. Athletes who play high school football are 10 times more likely to suffer from heat illness than students who play eight other high school sports. Thousands of students suffer from heat illnesses of differing severity each year, particularly during off-season summer conditioning. Overweight players are at a much higher risk.
Hopefully, the report will spread awareness of the dangers of heat-illness and provoke coaches to watch more carefully for its symptoms. This may conflict to the rigorous practice schedules coaches often use to prepare their players. Coaches are urged to consider humidity and wind speed, in addition to temperature when planning practices. The CDC is working to develop a web tutorial to teach coaches and other sports professionals to recognize the symptoms of severe heat sickness and to implement the best response methods.
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