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Your Healthy Family: Avoiding heat illness & heat stroke

Posted at 11:56 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 11:58:45-04

Fox 4 is starting something new. We know our health and the health of our families is the most important thing. This pandemic has proven that even more. That's why we have a new, daily segment, called "Your Healthy Family" to give you the latest information to protect your health.

With kids back in school and fall sports in full swing, we talked to health experts about keeping your kids safe from heat stroke or heat illness.

In August, 16-year-old Drake Geiger from Nebraska died after a heat stroke during football practice.

"He always brought laughter to the room. Always smiling, well liked. I mean, lovable kiddo. Going to be missed a lot," his sister Brittany Hoffman said.

Drake Geiger's family said he played football on the Omaha South High School Football Team. Drake's dad, Scott Hoffman, said he collapsed on the field after the first ten minutes of practice on August 10, and later died at the hospital.

"After about 30-45 minutes, the doctor came in and said that his body was so overheated and his organs were working extra hard, and he was very, very sick. And it wasn't a good situation," he said.

It's a scenario we've sadly seen play out Southwest Florida.

"There really aren't words to describe, other than it's a moment of horror," Laurie Giordano, the mother of Zachary Polsenberg, told Fox 4.

It's tough for for her to explain what it was like learning her son Zachary had a heatstroke when she had just dropped him off at practice hours before.

Doctor Adam Keating, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children's, said it sounds simple, but hydration is key. And not just when kids are thirsty.

"For athletes in high intensity exercise, we want them drinking before they are thirsty, and hydrating before that, as well as regular cooling down and hydration afterwards," Dr. Keating said.

He said the risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke is highest when kids exercise in hot, humid weather, like in Southwest Florida. Symptoms of heat illness include nausea, vomiting, weakness, and confusion. He said dehydration increases the risk of heat-related illness. Signs of dehydration include thirst, headache, dizziness and fatigue.

Dr. Keating recommends you talk to your kids about taking frequent breaks, removing pads to cool down, and drinking plenty of fluids.

"The vast majority of the time, water is going to be adequate to hydrate the athletes. But if you're doing very vigorous activity for probably greater than an hour with high intensity, then a sports drink may help out to help replenish some of those electrolytes," he said.

Dr. Keating said to also talk to your kids and make sure they know it's OK to speak up and tell the coach if they're not feeling well, or need a break.