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OCU Coaches Encourage Heat Illness Prevention
OKLAHOMA CITY - Coaches at Oklahoma City University want area youth to stay safe during hot summer workouts. Coaches and parents can make sure athletes stay cool and safe by following a few key guidelines. OCU Athletic Director Jim Abbott said ensuring proper nourishment and hydration is key in preventing heat-related illnesses. He said water breaks are suggested every 15 minutes and fluids should be available at all times. Athletes should consume sports drinks instead of soda, and only after having water. Athletes who practice in helmets and sweat-saturated clothing should remove their helmets often and change into dry clothing to allow heat to escape, Abbott said. Athletes may also want to work out with a buddy at home for added safety. “We are very concerned about the health and well-being of our student-athletes at Oklahoma City University,” Abbott said. “We do our best to keep our coaches informed of issues caused by extreme heat, we employ two certified athletic trainers to oversee all of our prevention programs and we provide physicals to student-athletes prior to them participating in organized practices and games. Being informed and prepared before working out in the heat is important.” Greg Kersgieter, assistant athletic director and trainer at OCU said when the temperature is more than 90 degrees and the humidity is more than 60 percent outside activities need to include longer breaks and the practice schedule should be changed accordingly. This can vary depending on the availability of shade, which can make a 15 degree difference, Kersgieter said. “If you wait until you are thirsty to start drinking water, then you are never going to catch up during your workout,” Kersgieter said. “Humidity causes your clothing to get sticky and the body can’t produce sweat as easily. If your body cannot sweat you cannot cool yourself properly,” he said. “If the forecast calls for high heat and humidity you should re-think your outdoor activities or change them accordingly.” Coaches should: • Make sure fluids are available at all times and provide frequent water breaks; • Put up tents or find a shaded area where athletes can rest; • Provide ice towels for players to use during breaks; • Watch players closely for signs of illness; and • Consider the heat and humidity when determining the length and intensity of practices. Athletes should: • Avoid heavy or wet clothing that will trap heat; • Frequently remove helmets or other athletic gear that retains heat; • Eat well and drink plenty of water before, during and after practice; and • Inform a coach if nausea, dizziness or other heat-related symptoms arise. ###