A Guide to Heat Acclimatization and Heat Illness Prevention
- Recognize that Exertional Heatstroke (EHS) is the leading preventable cause of death among athletes.
- Know the importance of a formal pre-season heat acclimatization plan.
- Know the importance of having and implementing a specific hydration plan, keeping your athletes well-hydrated, and providing ample opportunities for, and encouraging, regular fluid replacement.
- Know the importance of appropriately modifying activities in relation to the environmental heat stress and contributing risk factors (e.g., illness, overweight) to keep your athletes safe and performing well.
- Know the importance for all staff to closely monitor all athletes during practice and training in the heat, and recognize the signs and symptoms of developing heat illness.
- Know the importance of, and resources for, establishing an Emergency Action Plan and promptly implementing it in case of suspected EHS or other medical emergency.
Unit 1: Go slow and progressive
- Acclimatization can take up to 10-14 days
- Build a period of acclimation into the first 2 weeks of practice.
Unit 2: Allow for individual conditioning and medical status
- Factors contributing to higher risk for heat illness
- Body composition
- Athletes with Sickle Cell trait
Unit 3: Adjust intensity and rest
- Be aware of weather and humidity levels
Unit 4: Start sessions adequately hydrated
- Dehydration can impair athletic performance
- There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” hydration approach
- Dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluid than he or she consumes
- Know the warning signs of dehydration
- Monitor urine color
- Weigh in/weigh out
- Know what your athletes drink
- Sports drinks
Unit 5: Recognize signs early
Unit 6: Recognize more serious signs
Unit 7: Have an Emergency Action Plan