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Your Healthy Family: Keeping kids safe from heat during practice

Posted at 9:27 AM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 09:27:50-04

There have been heat advisories for Southwest Florida over the last few weeks. And with school and sports practices now in full-swing, it’s important to talk about ways to make sure your child is hydrated before spending all that time outside.

Hot weather can sideline young athletes by burning up important fluids they need. To help them stay in the game and keep cool, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatrician Dr. Richard So says kids need to hydrate before they take the field.

“The hydration starts the morning before you get to practice. So don’t skip the meals, drink a bottle of water with your breakfast in addition to whatever you’re going to have for your meal. It’s preventing these type of heat illness and dehydration injuries, which are very inter-related, I think that’s the best bet for our kids to be safe," he said.

Hydration doesn’t just help physical performance; it also boosts mental abilities. Dehydration can make an athlete overtired and confused.

Dr. So recommends keeping three Rs in mind: replacement, replenishment and recovery. He said the best way to replace fluids is to drink water. He said pickle juice and sports drinks can help replenish lost electrolytes. And chocolate milk is a great recovery drink, when carbohydrates, fats and protein are needed to help the body recover after a strenuous workout.

He said athletes should avoid caffeine because it can make them more dehydrated. When it comes to heat illness, he said a real red flag is vomiting. And nausea can be a sign of a dangerous heat stroke, which can be deadly.

“If you get a kid who’s vomiting and he’s got a high temperature, that’s an emergency. You have to cool that kid down with water or an ice bath right away," Dr. So said.

If an athlete is having these kinds of symptoms during a game, he said to get them off the field immediately, cool them down, and get them plenty of fluids.