Summer is here, and it’s a great time for kids to get outside and participate in sports! Staying active is important, especially for children’s growing bodies, and summer sports are perfect for having fun and exercising. One major concern in summer, however, is the heat. By knowing how to help your kids stay cool in the heat, you can prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and other consequences of too much time in the summer sun.
According to the CDC, about 650 people are affected by heat-related illness each year. While everyone should take precautions during the hottest months of the year, young athletes are particularly at risk when they’re out in the blazing sun exerting themselves. Don’t worry though! Taking practical steps can protect your children so they can focus on having a blast playing summer sports!
- Cold towels can help kids keep their cool. One of the most helpful hacks to stay cool during summer is to make the most of cooling towels. You can purchase microfiber cooling towels, or simply put some washcloths in a cooler full of ice to keep them nice and cold. During breaks, kids can apply these to their necks, foreheads, or pulse points for a quick cool-down.
- Towels aren’t the only way to take advantage of the body’s cooling points. During every bathroom break, have kids wash their hands in cool water, up to their elbows, then rub a cold, damp paper towel over their faces, necks, foreheads, and legs. Pay special attention to the front and back of the knees and inner thighs for best results. Keeping a spray bottle full of water for a quick spritz during breaks can also help kids keep cool in the sun. Wetting a hat with cold water before putting it on can also help them to cool down.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Pack plenty of water, so that the players can have a drink at every opportunity. Alternate water and sports beverages, so that they can replace electrolytes without consuming excessive amounts of sugar. It’s also wise to hydrate your young athletes prior to a practice or game, as well as during and after strenuous activity. Keep them from drinking beverages with caffeine, which can have a dehydrating effect, and make the most of snack breaks, providing your players with healthy carbs and fruit to give them energy and provide additional hydration.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. It won’t help them stay cool, but sunscreen is vitally important for protecting your young athletes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has 50 SPF- over 50 SPF hasn’t been proven to have additional benefits. This should be applied before a practice or game, but also needs to be reapplied every two hours throughout the time spent outside.
- Offer your players some shade whenever you can. One of the best ways to cool down in summer is to get out of the direct sun. Even on the hottest day, sitting in the shade can make a person feel like it’s 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Fields may not always have a ton of shade, so consider bringing a chair with a topper or a blanket with an umbrella with you!
- Don’t forget your own heat protection. While the athletes are most at risk from overheating during summer sports, parents, coaches, and spectators should take precautions as well. Bring along water for yourself, take breaks in the shade, and wear a hat.
If you’re looking for a fun experience for your kids where their health and safety is prioritized, i9 Sports® has the program for you. We’re the nation’s largest multi-sport provider, with over 3 million registrations in communities across the United States. Through our recreational sports leagues, camps, and clinics, boys and girls are provided with opportunities to participate in popular sports like flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ZIP Lacrosse™, and volleyball. We provide age-appropriate instruction, a well-organized program, and a team culture that prioritizes sportsmanship and fun, safe competition. For a positive, stress-free experience for the whole family, contact i9 Sports® today!