There are always risks involved in playing sports. A sprained ankle or a broken wrist can happen at any time, regardless of the season. However, summer brings more dangers than other seasons, especially when it comes to outdoor sports. Here are some things to think about, and ways to stay safe, while playing sports this the summer.
Summer brings intense heat, which can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases lethal. Heatstroke, sun poisoning, dehydration, and exhaustion are just a few of the ailments that are common to overexertion in the summer.
It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy, or if you don’t burn easily, you need to wear sunscreen. UV light from the sun can damage your skin on overcast days and that damage doesn’t always manifest in the form of a sunburn. The sun’s UV rays cause skin cancer, which, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.
It’s important to warm up and cool down when engaging in sports. Properly stretching and warming up your muscles can help prevent injuries, while cooling down at the end of athletic activity can help lessen or prevent pain and stiffness.
Stay hydrated. You always need to drink plenty of water when playing sports and exercising, but you need even more water in the heat of summer. The National Park Service recommends that you drink a gallon of water when hiking during the summer. Hiking is considered a vigorous physical activity on par with athletic sports. Drink water before you get thirsty.
Get acclimated. Your body needs to get used to physical activity in warmer temperatures. If you’re not used to 90 degree heat, you probably shouldn’t break into dead sprints on a hot summer day.
Don’t overdo it. For many athletes, giving up is not an option. Serious athletes push themselves to the limits of their capabilities, especially during competitions. However, there’s a fine line between determination and reckless behavior. If you experience headaches, or start to feel weak, dizzy, light headed, or unlike yourself in any other way, you shouldn’t keep pushing yourself to the point of injury. Take breaks when necessary, find shade, and drink plenty of water.
If it’s not you out there challenging yourself but your kids, be sure to take extra effort to keep them hydrated and to help them avoid overheating. Kids can be so involved in having fun that they don’t even notice early warning signs.