Extreme Heat: When Outdoor Sports Become Risky

Extreme Heat: When Outdoor Sports Become Risky

The most recent decade was the warmest in the United States since record keeping began in 1895. And 2019 saw some of the hottest months on record globally.  Extreme heat is intensifying with climate change, and even small increases in averages can have big impacts on extreme temperatures. 

All regions of the country are projected to experience higher temperatures in the future, with the magnitude of temperature increase largely determined by the amount of emissions we produce now and in the near future. In July, the Union of Concerned Scientists published research that projected the effect that global warming will have on the number of days per year in which the heat index will rise above 90°, 100°, and 105°F through the end of the century. The UCS analysis found that in many U.S. cities, extreme heat conditions will rise from just a few days each year to weeks or months by 2050. By the end of the century, much of the summer could become dangerous for millions of Americans to work or be active outdoors. 

Extreme Heat and Sports: A Potentially Lethal Mix

Exercising outdoors when the heat index is high can add increased stress to your body. Body heat production rises during strenuous exercise, compared to when you are at rest. During intense exercise, maintaining a healthy body heat balance is highly dependent on the evaporation of sweat. On high humidity days, when sweat cannot evaporate from your skin, you are at risk of a variety of heat-related illnesses, from heat exhaustion to heat stroke.

School Sports

According to the Center for Disease Control, heat illness is a leading cause of death among high school athletes. Since 1995, 64 football players have died from heat stroke (47 high school, 13 college, two professional, and two organized youth), with nearly all of them (90%) occurring during practice. Although successful treatment strategies are being implemented, athletes are still succumbing to exertional heat illness (EHI), and heat stroke is a leading cause of sudden death during sports activities. As climate change threatens to increase high heat index days around the country, athletic trainers, coaches, and medical professionals will need to be educated and prepared to respond to, prevent, recognize, and treat EHI in athletes of all ages.

The University of Connecticut's Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) studies heat stress in sport and is named after the Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001. Dr. Douglas Casa, the chief executive officer of KSI, is working with high school athletic associations in all 50 states to promote instituting state level policies for preventing heat illness, as there is no one national governing body. Casa’s research has found that states have very mixed records in terms of high school sports safety policies, including for practices or competitions on high heat and humidity days. Two years ago, KSI issued a report ranking all the states on meeting best practices for safety, and since then, about 30 states have instituted changes to upgrade safety policies. Many of the state-level high school association governing bodies are made up of former coaches or athletic trainers, and KSI’s mission is to bring professional medical expertise and evidence-based research to direct state policies.

One of KSI’s top recommendations is for schools to institute wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) monitoring to more accurately measure local heat and humidity conditions. Long in use by the military, a WBGT device measures and incorporates ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind, and solar radiation from the sun. A shadeless, artificial-turf football field, surrounded by an 8-lane blacktop running track can have a microclimate of its own, says Casa. 

He acknowledges about a dozen states are using WBGT devices to monitor heat conditions for high school sports.

It’s More than Just High School Sports

Extreme heat is impacting sporting events around the world—at all levels, from youth to amateur to professional.Japan’s deadly summer heat waves have caused the 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizers to reschedule the Olympic marathon to begin at 6 a.m. to avoid the highest heat at mid-day and to put in place measures to keep spectators and participants safe from the heat and humidity next summer. Last September, for the first time, the heat rule was extended to male players at the U.S. Open, allowing male competitors to take 10-minute breaks between sets. But five players withdrew from competition due to the heat that day, which reached a heat index of 102°F.    

Cancellation of major events can also be costly for participants, the organizers, and the cities that host them. In July, the Haskell Invitational, the biggest horse race of the year for Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey, was delayed for several hours due to extreme heat, and a number of other races that day were cancelled to protect the horses. The decision caused a financial hit, with the park taking in $8.6 million in betting instead of an expected intake of $20 million. 

Parents, Guardians, and Coaches: What You Can Do  

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association has developed a series of recommendations for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of exertional heat illness, and the Centers for Disease Control provides an online course for coaches. These recommendations cannot guarantee full protection, as individuals’ conditions and responses will vary, but they offer ways to mitigate risk of heat exertion illness. The NATA website provides a number of handouts and other guidance for parents and coaches

  • Prior to exercise, athletes should undergo medical screenings for previous heat illness incidents and other conditions. Any current sickness, such as a virus or fever, should disallow participation.
  • Identify individuals who may be at more risk for exertional heat illness and monitor them closely. Keep emergency equipment onsite, such as tubs for cold-water immersion.
  • Design workouts and physical activities to mitigate risks.
Heat acclimatization—progressively increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity—should be done gradually, over 7 to 14 days.  Rest breaks in the shade or in a cool area should be planned, include fluids, and allow athletes to remove equipment like helmets.
  • Fluids should be made available at all times, not just during designated breaks, and instruction should be given to athletes on eating and drinking appropriately to replace sodium loss in sweat.
  • Educate all personnel (coaches, trainers, medical staff, athletes) on preventing and recognizing exertional heat illness and stroke, and develop policies for organized sports and events taking place in hot, humid conditions.

Athletes: What You Can Do

The Korey Stringer Institute provides guidance for heat acclimatization, for athletes and others planning to train or participate in an event when high heat and humidity are forecast, with acclimating to the heat over 7 to 14 days a top recommendation. Their website also provides detailed advice, videos, and resources to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat syncope (fainting and dizziness). 

The Center for Disease Control also offers advice for athletic activities in extreme heat.  Among CDC’s tips:

  • “Limit outdoor activity, especially during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest.
  • “Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • “Drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. 
  • “Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • “Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.”


METHODOLOGY

The daily maximum temperature and minimum relative humidity was assessed from 1979 to 2018 at the 239 contiguous U.S. stations typically analysed by Climate Central, using the gridMET modeled dataset and based on the findings of Dahl et al. 2019. Heat index temperatures were calculated using the National Weather Service’s heat index algorithms. The change in the number of 90°F+ and 105°F+ days are based on linear regression. Local graphics were not produced for Eureka and Monterey, California or Flagstaff, Arizona due to a lack of days in which the calculated daily heat index met or exceeded 90°F during the study period.

 This Article Originally Appeared On Climate Central

Related Books

Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities

by Peter Plastrik , John Cleveland
1610918495The future of our cities is not what it used to be. The modern-city model that took hold globally in the twentieth century has outlived its usefulness. It cannot solve the problems it helped to create—especially global warming. Fortunately, a new model for urban development is emerging in cities to aggressively tackle the realities of climate change. It transforms the way cities design and use physical space, generate economic wealth, consume and dispose of resources, exploit and sustain the natural ecosystems, and prepare for the future. Available On Amazon

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

by Elizabeth Kolbert
1250062187Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human. Available On Amazon

Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats

by Gwynne Dyer
1851687181Waves of climate refugees. Dozens of failed states. All-out war. From one of the world’s great geopolitical analysts comes a terrifying glimpse of the strategic realities of the near future, when climate change drives the world’s powers towards the cut-throat politics of survival. Prescient and unflinching, Climate Wars will be one of the most important books of the coming years. Read it and find out what we’re heading for. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfrdehiiditjakomsfaptruesswsvthtrurvi

LATEST VIDEOS

Can We Terraform the Sahara to Stop Climate Change?
by Real Engineering
Is terraforming the Sahara of the solutions to Stop Climate Change? We'll explore this idea in this video.
Allergens Are On The Rise In Canada's Urban Centres
by CBC News: The National
Canadians across the country say their allergies are getting worse.
Bill Nye And The Climate Crisis
by MSNBC
On a special show before a live studio audience, Bill Nye the science guy discusses the climate crisis with Chris Hayes.
How Greenland's Massive Ice Melt Will Totally Transform The World
by Channel 4 News
Remember that heatwave back in August? Well, the Arctic remembers it too. Record rates of ice melt have been recorded…
China Is Positioned To Lead On Climate Change As The US Rolls Back Its Policies
China Is Positioned To Lead On Climate Change As The US Rolls Back Its Policies
by Kelly Sims Gallagher and Fang Zhang
As the effects of climate change become more widespread and alarming, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has…
What Happens When The Permafrost Thaws?
by Official W5
Almost half of Canada sits on permanently frozen land called permafrost, but climate change is causing it to thaw and…
We Are Striking to Disrupt the System: An Hour with 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg
by Democracy Now!
In her first extended broadcast interview in the United States, we spend the hour with Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old…
Annual Assessment of North Cascades Glaciers Finds Shocking Loss of Volume
Annual Assessment of North Cascades Glaciers Finds Shocking Loss of Volume
by Mauri Pelto
The summer of 2019 found the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project in the field for the 36th consecutive summer…

LATEST ARTICLES

How To Build A City Fit For 50℃ Heatwaves
How To Build A City Fit For 50℃ Heatwaves
by Adrian Pitts
The Persian Gulf is already one of the hottest parts of the world, but by the end of the century increasing heat…
Can We Terraform the Sahara to Stop Climate Change?
by Real Engineering
Is terraforming the Sahara of the solutions to Stop Climate Change? We'll explore this idea in this video.
Hope And Mourning In The Anthropocene: Understanding Ecological Grief
Hope And Mourning In The Anthropocene: Understanding Ecological Grief
by Neville Ellis and Ashlee Cunsolo
We are living in a time of extraordinary ecological loss. Not only are human actions destabilising the very conditions…
Healthy, Happy And Tropical – World's Fastest-growing Cities Demand Our Attention
Healthy, Happy And Tropical – World's Fastest-growing Cities Demand Our Attention
by Karine Dupré, et al
What does it take to be a happy and healthy city? In any city, myriad factors go into the mix – and of course we are…
The Government Is Right To Fund Energy Storage: A 100% Renewable Grid Is Within Reach
The Government Is Right To Fund Energy Storage: A 100% Renewable Grid Is Within Reach
by Andrew Blakers, et al
In a speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the key requirements…
Allergens Are On The Rise In Canada's Urban Centres
by CBC News: The National
Canadians across the country say their allergies are getting worse.
High-tech Weather Forecasting Aims To Bring New Hope To Indian Farmers Facing The Devastation Of Climate Change
High-tech Weather Forecasting Aims To Bring New Hope To Indian Farmers Facing The Devastation Of Climate Change
by Sam Relph
The world’s largest network of automated weather stations, created to predict droughts and floods, is helping tackle…
Regenerative Agriculture Can Make Farmers Stewards Of The Land Again
Regenerative Agriculture Can Make Farmers Stewards Of The Land Again
by Stephanie Anderson
For years, “sustainable” has been the buzzword in conversations about agriculture.