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Playing Sports in the Heat

POSTED BY: Florida Hospital

Summer is the perfect time for getting together with friends and playing sports outside. From golfing to basketball and beyond, the summer weather lends itself to a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. And while the great weather may seem ideal it's also fraught with certain dangers if you're not properly prepared.


Where and When to Play

Choosing when and where you play is as important as choosing what you're playing. Mornings and evenings are best for outdoor activities in Florida's summer heat because the temperature can range up to twenty degrees cooler than it does in the afternoon. But if your schedule doesn't allow for it, try to find a nice, shaded place to play. Storm clouds are great for blocking the sun and providing some much-needed breeze but make sure you take every precaution to avoid getting struck by lightning. In the last 10 years, more than fifty people were struck and killed by lighting. And nearly 300 were struck and survived with sustaining injuries. If you can hear thunder or see lightning, stop the game and find shelter immediately.


What to Wear

Naturally, if you're playing a full contact sport such as football then you should be wearing appropriate protective gear. But you'll also need to outfit yourself with the right protection from the elements.

  • Always wear a sunscreen rated SPF15 or higher
  • Wear well-ventilated clothing, shoes, and socks
  • Cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, Tencel (lyocell) and other light, natural fibers are good choices but can retain moisture and potentially chafe
  • Synthetic fabrics designed for wicking moisture away such as nylon, polyester, polypropylene, rayon, and spandex blends are naturally UV resistant and are good at wicking away moisture
  • Gore-tex shoes are ideal but other fabrics work very similarly


Staying Hydrated

Easily the most important part of playing in the summer heat is proper hydration. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after playing in the Florida sun. Sports drinks containing electrolytes are an excellent way to manage any electrolyte depletion you could get by sweating it out during exercise. Water is always an excellent choice for staying hydrated and it's easy to come by. The high humidity of the Florida summer will make you sweat considerably more than if you were playing in a controlled environment or during cooler months so it's vital you stay properly hydrated to avoid the risk of suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke.


Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

If you experience the following symptoms you should immediately move to a cooler place, stop exercising, and cool down by pouring chilled water over your head, ears, neck and wrists or use wet cloths, compresses, and fanning. If symptoms persist, you may need to seek medical attention.

Watch for:

  • Cool, moist skin
  • Dark urine
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness

If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention immediately by calling 911 (or your local emergency number) right away. Worsening symptoms can include:

  • Dry, hot, and red skin
  • Extreme confusion
  • Fever (temperature above 104 degrees)
  • Irrational behavior
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

For questions about playing sports in the heat visit FHSportsMed.com or call 407-303-8080.