Summer sports camps can be a very fun experience for your child, and it can get them prepared for fall sports at their school. Summer sports camps are dangerous however, because of the often extreme heat that the athletes workout in. There are a lot of precautions you should take in order to keep children healthy during summer sports camps, whether you are a parent or a coach, and here are the top four.
Make Sure the Child Has a Physical Beforehand
In order to keep children safe during summer sports camp, you should get them evaluated by their doctor to ensure they are healthy enough to participate. If you go in to the doctor for a physical, the doctor will be able to alert you to any medical conditions that the child might be suffering from. Since summer heat affects those with diabetes and obesity the most, it is great to know about these medical conditions before summer sports camp begins. If the child is on daily medications for a medical condition, make sure you ask the doctor about the safety of being outside in the heat while on the medication. Some medications require you to stay out of the heat or sunlight because it can have nasty side effects, so always read the labels on medication bottles to evaluate the safety of them. The doctor could also alert you to any possible medical emergencies the child might suffer from while in the summer heat, and then you can take other precautions to ensure the child is safe while in summer sports camp.
Make Sure Emergency Crews are On Hand
Most summer sports camps will have a medical crew at the training location, but you should make sure of this before you let your child participate. With the summer heat, there are a lot of problems that can occur, and emergency services should be on standby just in case this happens. I would personally ask to see their credentials and certifications before I let my child participate in summer sports, to make sure that the emergency personnel is qualified to deal with summer heat medical problems. Whether you are a coach or parent of the child, you should always make sure that their best interest is at heart, and you do that by knowing the depth of the skills the medical staff around you has. If you are at a location or school where emergency crews are not at the scene due to economic reasons, then maybe summer sports camp is just not the right activity for the child.
Know Warning Signs of Heat Illness
In order to keep children safe at summer sports camps, you should know the warning signs of heat illness, and then talk to children about it as well. Some of the most obvious warning signs of heat illness are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches and muscle cramps. You should go over these symptoms with every child to ensure they understand, and make sure they realize the importance of telling an adult as soon as they feel any of these symptoms. You should also make sure to get the child out of the sport immediately once symptoms appear, and take them into the shade or air conditioning to help them cool down. If you do not know the warning signs of heat illness, then it is likely a child does not either, which will put them as risk for heat stroke or other related medical emergencies.
Keep Sports Drinks and Snacks on Hand
While at a summer sports camp, you should ensure every child has access to sports drinks, water, and healthy protein snacks. When a child becomes dehydrated, you want to make them drink a bottle of a sports drink such as Gatorade, because it has sodium in it, which will help balance the amounts lost through sweat. Water is a great option as well, but it does not contain the essential sodium that a person needs when participating in sports, so give them a glass of each. You always want to keep some snacks on hand as well that contain protein, this can help children stay hydrated and ensure their blood sugar levels do not drop to dangerous lows. Even those that are not diabetic can fall victim to low blood sugar, and this creates a whole host of health emergencies. Some great snacks to keep on hand are bananas, grain and fruit bars, and peanut butter crackers. Allow a child to take a break when they feel it is needed and eat or drink, or you can make a group break happen twice an hour so the children can grab what they feel they need.