Help keep students cool as fall practice starts

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

August 23, 2019- As kids head back to school in Northeast Ohio and practice begins for fall sports and activities, summer heat and humidity can be especially hazardous to students as they play in the late summer heat.

American football

Coaches can help keep their students safe with a few tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Avoid scheduling practice outside during the hottest times of the day. Instead, schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening.
  2. Help players acclimate to the heat by reducing the intensity of workouts until they are more accustomed to the heat.
  3. Plan frequent, longer breaks when practicing in the heat. Stop about every 20 minutes for water breaks to keep everyone hydrated and take breaks in the shade, if possible.
  4. Coaches should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather. Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or lightweight, light-colored cotton T-shirts and shorts.
  5. Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely. Athletes should inform a coach if they are not feeling well. Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat Cramps

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water or an electrolyte-containing fluid (sports drink, fruit juice or milk) every 15 minutes.

Heat Exhaustion

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink and make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 911.

StayWell PHSS stock photography


Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin, which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, short breathing; confusion; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 911 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. 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. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.


  • Take a Red Cross Training class to become certified! The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross offers classes in CPR, Basic Life Support (BLS), AED defibrillation and First Aid to be prepared in case an athlete is in need of care. Find a local class near you.
  • First Aid, Health and Safety for Coachesis an online course developed by the Red Cross and the National Federation of State High School Associations to provide an overview of first aid and “best practices” for first aid situations encountered by coaches, including injuries to officials, fellow coaches or spectators.
  • Download the Red Cross First Aid App, which provides users instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including heat-related emergencies. Download the app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at org/apps.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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