School’s out, which means summer sports are about to kick into high gear. While kids are swimming, playing soccer, tennis or attending camp for any number of other sports, outdoor safety is key to a healthy, fun experience.
To find out what parents, coaches and kids need to look out for, we spoke with two Mount Sinai Health System experts who work with the United States Tennis Association: Dr. James Gladstone, co-chief of the Sports Medicine Service and associate professor of orthopedic surgery, and Dr. Melissa Leber, assistant professor of sports medicine and emergency medicine, and director of emergency department sports medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West.
What's most important about kids playing outside in elevated temperatures?
Dr. Leber: Water's gonna be the best thing for kids. Then they need carbohydrate replacement with a watered down Gatorade-type drink or something with electrolytes in it. It really depends on the age of the child. A very, very physically active teenager requires six liters of water a day. If a child is just out for fun for a little bit of time and not doing any kind of elite sports, then they drink to thirst.
How high does the humidity need to be before it's just not healthy to be outside?
Leber: There's no one level of humidity. It's a matter of being able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness that an athlete or a parent will know when to come inside. If they're getting any of these symptoms to take a break or get cold water and take a rest. I think the higher the humidity, the more attuned you have to be to your symptoms.
And what are those symptoms?
Leber: Headache. Feeling more fatigue than they would normally feel outside.
Dr. Gladstone: Profuse sweating that's not being replaced with water, because certainly when people get completely dehydrated they stop sweating. When you stop sweating, it can bring on heatstroke.
What about dressing for the weather?
Leber: Make sure that kids outside in the summer wear white or light colors to help reflect the sun, and also wear sweat wicking clothing. Those can help maintain cool temperatures.
Gladstone: You know, one thing that's been talked about some is how people are wearing these tighter, long sleeves, long pants. They've seen Lebron James wearing them and it looks cool. I think to wear that in hot weather, you gotta be careful. That's just increasing your body temperature immeasurably.
How about sunscreen?
Gladstone: The sun is often much stronger than you even think it feels. I would say loose guidelines would be to reapply every three hours, particularly if you're doing a lot of sweating.
What else should people consider when their kids are playing summer sports?
Gladstone: One thing would be that kids should be kids in the summer, and go out and play and do all kinds of sports. As sports-medicine specialists, we see more and more younger kids coming in with problems because they're playing one specific sport year round. Summer is a good time to decompress; if you're a soccer player, swim and play tennis. I think ultimately doing other sports will improve your ability in your primary sport. You develop a lot better.