Health and Fitness to look after your body
HEAT STRESS: Reprinted in association with LAANSW in an endeavour to assist all Centre Officials, Key Assistants, First Aid Personnel, and especially all parents of Little Athletes, to ensure any/all heat related problems are rectified before any major catastrophe occurs.
HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS: Little Athletics is a sport conducted primarily in the summer months, including spring and early autumn. Thus, attention needs to be given to heat stress management.
Heat-related illness is a risk (albeit small) to all athletes. The risk is increased in hot (particularly humid) weather, is greater in distance events and is accentuated by insufficient fluid intake. The risk is greater in summer, but it must not be overlooked that it may also occur in spring, autumn and winter (primarily in distance events). Children with specific underlying illnesses (fibrocystic disease, intercurrent infection, e.g. a child who competes when unwell, to name two) are at increased risk.
Heat-related illness refers to a spectrum from heat cramp, heat syncope, heat exhaustion through to heat stroke. Heat stroke is serious and life threatening.
The features range through dizziness, faintness, staggering or stumbling gait, dazed appearance and disorientation to drowsiness and even unconsciousness. Some of these features may be present in children who are tired and not suffering from heat-related illness.
Heat-related illness can occur in short distance and field events on hot days (as well as distance events) and in distance events on milder days.
Heat-related illness is primarily caused by three factors:
(a) the heat of the day increases body temperature.
(b) exercise increases body heat.
(c) lack of adequate fluid intake impairs heat loss (sweating).
CONSIDERATIONS: Considerations for full day/weekend carnivals and Saturday morning Centre competition Prevention and interim recommendations are:
1. For parents:
(a) Children must be given 150ml to 200ml hourly while at a carnival (whether or not they are in a 1500m or 3000m).
(b) Children should not sit or play in the sun, except for brief periods.
(c) Children should not compete if unwell, particularly if febrile.
2. For carnival organisers:
(a) Carnival organisers should regularly give additional warnings for parents and children regarding 1(a) and 1(b) when the ambient temperature is greater than 25oC, particularly if there is high humidity.
(b) Carnival organisers should not run the 3000m unless the ambient temperature is less than 30oC, particularly if there is high humidity.
(c) Carnival organisers should provide fluids (water) on the track, available to all competitors if the ambient temperature is greater than 25oC.
(d) A 1 hour (or longer) break occur in the middle of the day if the ambient temperature is greater than 29oC .
(e) When the ambient temperature is greater than 26oC, the first aid representative be requested to observe the conduct of all long distance events (800m, 1500m, 3000m) for evidence of heat stroke and discuss with the organiser.
What to do if a child is thought to have heat related illness:
ON THE TRACK: If a child is staggering, stumbling, wavering or appearing disoriented (i.e. if they show signs of heat stroke), it is negligent to leave the child competing. The Association needs to define the setting to allow this to happen without placing officials in a tenuous position. A Medical Officer has a responsibility to and must act to prevent a child with heat stroke or suspected heat stroke for harming themselves.
PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE! We are concerned at the number of injuries and associated problems with your chosen sport, particularly as many of the problems can be PREVENTED.
Prevention is better than cure!
Young athletes’ bodies have Thermo Regulation Difficulties (the ability of the body to dispose of heat). To prevent this problem, we strongly suggest that parents or caregivers ensure that athletes drink one glass of water at least 30 minutes before the scheduled event . More water should be taken as the temperature rises during the day (about 100ml per hour).