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Athletes at Risk for Serious Heat-Related Injuries

Updated December 28, 2018 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Even though the summer is nearly over, we’re still likely to see some hot days before the fall weather settles in for good. Youth athletes and their parents should be aware that heat stroke and heat exhaustion—although they’re usually thought of as summer problems—are still dangers.

Risk as Sports Activities Begin

With the school year just beginning, many student athletes begin practicing in the hottest days of the year as summer melts into fall. Only last month, Education Week highlighted recent studies showing that heat-triggered ailments are a leading cause of student athlete deaths and that most heat-related illnesses happen within the first two weeks of team training.

College and high school coaches were reminded to exercise caution and encouraged to follow guidelines set by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations to reduce the risk of heat-related injuries.

Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion can happen when a person has been exposed too long to high temperatures. They might feel weak, dizzy, experience cramps, or even vomit. They might also be dehydrated and can even faint. Heatstroke is a more serious condition in which the body temperature rises to at least 103˚F. It’s considered a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, because at that temperature brain damage and death can follow if the body is not cooled down.

These conditions can strike even healthy athletes with little or no warning if the circumstances align. That’s what happened right here in Indiana last year, when a promising fourteen-year-old Pike County footballer player, Colin Kelly, collapsed during an early July practice. Colin’s heat stroke proved fatal, and earlier this summer his father joined the effort to bring awareness to all athletes with the hope that what happened to his son won’t happen to any other player. “Be hands-on with your coaches, be hands-on with the football program, and be hands-on with your kids to tell them to drink water, be hydrated,” he urged.

Unfortunately, there have been similar cases this summer. On average, more than 110 people die each year from extreme heat. In July, a man working for a landscaping firm out of Muncie, Indiana died after working more than nine hours on a day when the heat index reached 110˚F.

Possible Parties at Fault for Heat-Related Injuries

Weather conditions and exposure lead to heat-related injuries, but they’re not always caused by Mother Nature. In some cases, when someone suffers from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, especially a young athlete, the blame may lie with the sponsoring organization, the school, or the coaching staff for holding practice when conditions made it dangerous or for not taking proper steps to keep athletes cool enough and properly hydrated.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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