Summer is almost here, and that means fun youth programs, plus plenty of heat, is right around the corner!
To keep everyone having an enjoyable time and safe as the weather changes, it’s essential for coaches and parents as well as athletes themselves to be aware of what to do to stay safe. To prevent heat-related injuries and illnesses, we’ve put together 7 of the most important tips for you and your athletes.
Read on and learn or contact us right away to find out about Summer activities in your area.
Training and Conditioning Smart
Summer sports are often used to practice and gear up for the next school season. It’s a perfect opportunity because kids have more time and sports can impact fewer other outside activities. We see this, especially with sports like youth soccer and cheerleading.
All that work is great, but we want kids and parents to think about it in a bigger picture. You’re not just training to get better, but also building brain power and friendships. So, training and conditioning still need to emphasize the bonds we create and how we’re accountable to each other in and outside of youth programs.
We encourage you to review all of these steps with your teams so that they know what danger signs to look for in their athletes and friends. Keeping practice times and duration reasonable — so that you’re avoiding extreme heat and dehydration — is the first step.
When anyone feels uncomfortable during practice, they should stop. Coaches and helpers should immediately stop the rest of the practice to make sure the child and others are okay. During the Summer, it’s everyone’s job to stay safe, hydrated, and empowered.
Be there for your star.
There’s almost nothing more important in the Summer heat than staying hydrated. Always remind children during any activity, indoors or out, to drink plenty of water. Please include water breaks during any youth sports games and practices.
If you’re leading activities, it’s a smart idea to have water bottles ready for each child, with about 20 oz. of water per person per hour. The hotter it is, the more water you should have just in case. To avoid other heat-related problems, sports practice should be held indoors during hot days, and children should be encouraged to wear light-colored clothing.
ActivStars encourages every adult or activity leader to also have a fully charged phone and emergency plan for heat-related illnesses, so you know when to call a pediatrician or emergency services.
The best defense against the Sun is to protect your skin in multiple ways! We encourage everyone to cover up appropriately, with light but long clothing. If your children are practicing or enjoying the outdoors, look for additional options too. Hats are vitally important for anyone who is enjoying the sunshine, and they can be worn during practices or games, when your child is waiting their turn on the sidelines.
Here’s one crucial thing that not many people think of: wear sunglasses when not on the field! Sunglasses protect your eyes, which is especially important for younger children. You’ll want to give them as much coverage and protection as possible to limit the harm. It’s an easy way to help keep kids sports safe.
Sunscreen is always extremely important too. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum), says the CDC. Reapply sunscreen after exercising or swimming, even if the sunscreen says that is waterproof.
Take Frequent Breaks during Youth Programs
The Summer heat can sneak up on anyone, including adults. Your best safety bet is to practice or play for short periods and avoid the hottest time of the day! During the morning or afternoon, plan for frequent breaks to reapply sunscreen and check all of the kids. Make sure everyone is drinking water and look for signs of any Sun-related harm.
Remember, even on those cool and cloudy days, the UV rays of the Sun are coming through and can burn! Clouds don’t block UV rays, so it’s easy to forget.
Life Jackets on The Water
Here’s the most straightforward piece of advice for the Summer: Every time you’re on the water, you should wear a life jacket. No exceptions.
Keep children safe by protecting them, because even the best swimmers can get tired or accidentally drink some water and start to struggle. Life jackets save lives, and they should always be on when you’re in the water.
Buckle Up in The Car to And from Practice
Summertime often comes with frequent trips whether that’s to practice for a favorite local youth programs or youth sports camp, or just hanging out with friends, going to the pool, or escaping the heat in the library for a delightful book.
With all these adventures ready to be enjoyed, it’s important to remind everyone that they should wear their seat belt — even Mom and Dad.
Seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017, thanks to almost 90% of people using them. You and your children are important to your family, community, and our world. Buckle up and stay safe so that this summer is full of great memories.
Create an Emergency Action Plan
Part of our ActivStars Commitment is to keep children safe. In the Summer, that often means more than just paying attention to the heat or water. There are new dangers as kids are out of school during the day when many parents and adults are at work.
Walking home from practice or a friend’s house can include a variety of new temptations and risks.
We recommend you create an action plan for your child so that they are aware of what to do at all times. Review how to know if an adult is safe, how to create a schedule, so everyone knows where each person is and how to contact them, and who to reach out to in case of an emergency.
Answering the phone or the door when home alone can be tricky, as can going to the store or playing outside in a new area. Your child needs all the protection that you can give them.
ActivStars provides important information on this and more in our SAFEshield program for karate and youth martial arts programs, but this Summer we’re also going to make those materials available online to parents. Join our newsletter mailing list to be notified when the latest safety tips and packages are available for download!