Tips to Keep Athletes Safe in Extreme Heat

This summer’s record heat has prompted the American Red Cross to reach out to parents, schools, sports coaches, and team officials, offering tips to help ensure the safety of their players during extreme heat.

“Keeping athletes safe during extreme temperatures is as important as getting them ready for the upcoming season,” said Dr. David Markenson, Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “One of the most important things athletes can do is stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids like water or sports drinks with electrolytes before, during, and after practice — even if you are not thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.”

Other tips include:

  • Schedule team practices for early in the day and later in the evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.
  • Allow athletes to get acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of practice until they are more accustomed to it.
  • Take drink breaks about every 20 minutes — in the shade, if possible.
  • Reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in extremely hot, humid weather.
  • Dress athletes, when appropriate, in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored, cotton tee shirts and shorts.
  • Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.

Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. If someone is experiencing heat cramps:

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Stretching, massaging and icing the affected muscle may help.
  • Give a half glass of cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is caused by a combination of exercise induced heat, and fluid and electrolyte loss from sweating. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. To help someone with these symptoms:

  • Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing. Spray him or her with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in his or her condition.
  • If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself. Signs of heat stroke include those of heat exhaustion and hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; change or loss of consciousness; seizures; vomiting; and high body temperature. If you suspect heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. If unable to immerse them, continue rapid cooling by applying bags of ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits, spraying with water and/or fanning.

The Red Cross offers courses in how to prevent and respond to emergencies. For more information and to register, visit:

Source: American Red Cross

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Past Member
Past Member 2 years ago

Awesome article, keep up the great working and congratulation for the appreciation of all the people to you. More Info

Ksenia A.
Ksenia A6 years ago

Thank you so much for useful info. Although I can't without drink during fitness. But I use it when I feel huskiness in mouth.

Magdalena K.
Past Member 6 years ago

good to know

iii q.
g d c6 years ago

why practice/play outdoors in extreme heat then?
it can't wait till molre moderate climate/weather?

Christia F.
Christia F6 years ago

Thank you for sharing this with the Care2 Community.
Peace, Tia

Clare E.
Clare Canfield6 years ago


Laura S.
Laura S6 years ago

Every year, at least one student athlete dies while at a summer training session. I can thnk of no greater waste of a young life. Parents cannot trust a coach to keep their child safe at practice. Very simply, coaches and parents do not share the same priorities.

More parents need to keep their sons and daughters home from practice during these heat waves, or else we'll keep seeing young people die. Short of that, more parents need to actually GO to practice and monitor the effects of the heat on the athletes. Coaches have to be reminded that winning isn't everything, and that knowing when to stop isn't necessarily a sign of weakness.

Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago

Thanks Ann!~

Maria S.
Maria S6 years ago

Thanks for this great information.

Elena Arutiunova
Elena Arutiunova6 years ago

Thx for the info!