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Heat Related Illness

LANSW POLICY:

You can download the LANSW Hot Weather Guidelines [1.24MB pdf] relating to exercise and hydration in extreme temperatures.

Background:

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.

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:

  1. the heat of the day increases body temperature.
  2. exercise increases body heat.
  3. lack of adequate fluid intake impairs heat loss (sweating).

Symptoms:

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.

Considerations:

Considerations for full day/weekend carnivals and Saturday morning Centre competition Prevention and interim recommendations are:

1. For parents:

  1. Children must be given 150ml to 200ml hourly while at a carnival (whether or not they are in a 1500m or 3000m).
  2. Children should not sit or play in the sun, except for brief periods.
  3. Children should not compete if unwell, particularly if febrile.

2. For carnival organisers:

  1. Carnival organisers should regularly give additional warnings for parents and children regarding 1(a) and 1(b) when the ambient temperature is greater than 25?C, particularly if there is high humidity.
  2. Carnival organisers should not run the 3000m unless the ambient temperature is less than 30?C, particularly if there is high humidity.
  3. Carnival organisers should provide fluids (water) on the track, available to all competitors if the ambient temperature is greater than 25?C.
  4. A 1 hour (or longer) break occur in the middle of the day if the ambient temperture is greater than 29?C .
  5. When the ambient temperature is greater than 26?C, 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

PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE! We are concerned at the number of injuries ad associated problems with your chosen sport, particularly as many of the problems can be PREVENTED.

Water – 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).

Food – Not eating breakfast and on longer days, lunch leads to low sugar levels in the blood stream (lack of energy) which may cause collapse due to exhaustion.  Again a preventable problem.  So make sure athletes partake in suitable nutrition prior to competition.

Stretching – We strongly recommend all competitors warm up there muscles prior to competition and again at the completion.

First Aid Response

  1. Apply cool packs to the groins, neck and arm pits (do not apply to other parts of the body-, do not put cold cloths or cold water on other parts of the body as this leads to constriction of blood vessels in the skin and decrease heat loss).
  2. If possible spray with warm water and fan with warm air.
  3. Ensure adequate ventilation/flow of air.
  4. Lay in the shade and elevate the legs.
  5. If a child is unconscious or drowsy arrange transfer to hospital immediately.
  6. Take the tympanic membrane or rectal temperature if possible.
  7. If intravenous fluids are available and heat stroke is considered, give IV dextrose saline while awaiting transfer to hospital.

ALCOHOL/SMOKE FREE ZONE:

A reminder to all parents and adult visitors that the area bounded by the northern fence of No 2 oval, No 1 Oval on the West, Britannia Street in the South and the oval boundary fence of No 2 Oval to the East is an ALCOHOL FREE ZONE on competition days.
And for those parents who cannot be without a cigarette for a short period are asked to, at least, refrain from smoking anywhere within any area of competition.