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The best defense against heat-related reactions is Prevention. On an annual basis the Athletic and Fine Arts departments will train staff on precautions to take to ensure student safety during high heat. Staff focus will be on "constant surveillance" of students during high heat to ensure student health. Should symptoms arise, they will be addressed immediately by using Quick Care guidelines and basic first aid if needed.
The following guidelines are to be used as appropriate to ensure student safety during high heat. Implementation may vary depending on the activity. (e.g., A football player will be dressed in shoulder pads, etc. so the "wear lightweight clothing" would not apply.)
Guidelines for Staff
- Reduce the intensity and duration of strenuous physical activity initially and gradually increase to accomplish acclimatization.
- Fully hydrate students prior to strenuous physical activity. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and high sugar, carbonated drinks.
- Provide cool water and scheduled frequent rest periods when students are encouraged to drink 2-3 glasses of water.
- Plan strenuous outdoor activity for early morning or late in the day.
- Be aware of chronic health issues and medications of students so that heightened surveillance of students with special needs occurs.
- Students with certain conditions are at a greater risk to heat stress. Included in these (but not limited to) are: cystic fibrosis, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, obesity, diabetes, chronic heart failure, caloric malnutrition, anorexia nervosa, sweating insufficiency syndrome.
- Check to see if student's medication has specific precautions regarding heat, sunlight, etc.
- Use a "buddy system" where students are educated regarding symptoms and monitor each other.
- Implement extra precautions when practicing on concrete or asphalt.
- Provide water on long, non-air-conditioned bus trips or encourage students to bring their own.
- The intensity of activities that last 30 minutes or more should be reduced whenever relative humidity and air temperature (Heat Index) are above critical levels (HI of 90 or above). (See Chart). "The higher the humidity, the more dangerous high air temperature is because of decreased evaporation of body sweat." Note that full sun exposure can increase the Heat Index by as much as 15 degrees F.
- Wear lightweight, loose, cool, reflective clothing.
- Wear hats or sun visors when participating in direct sun.
- Wear sunglasses or protective eye-wear.
- Avoid caffeine and high-sugar, carbonated drinks.
- Bring water to drink throughout activity.
- Inform instructor if recently ill.
- Avoid eating heavy, protein-rich foods prior to exercise.
- Wear sun block (SPF 15 or higher) and apply 30 minutes prior to outside activity to cool dry skin. Reapply according to directions.
There are four main heat-related reactions to excess heat:
- Heat syncope - fainting or near fainting due to overheating.
- Heat cramps - muscle cramps occurring during intense, prolonged activity in the heat.
- Heat exhaustion - body temperature of 103 - 105, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, cramps.
- Heat stroke - body temperature of 106 - 108, disorientation, seizures, hot and dry skin, coma.
Heat-related reactions will progress if proper treatment is delayed.