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Red Cross offers ways to keep players safe as fall sports return

Athletes in Louisiana are heading back to the playing fields to try out, practice and condition for fall school sports. Many of them could face being injured and the American Red Cross has ways that coaches can help keep players safe in hot weather and training available to teach students and coaches what they should do if someone is hurt.

The Louisiana summer heat and humidity can be especially hazardous as athletes begin to prepare for the upcoming fall sports season. Here are some steps coaches and officials can take to help keep them safe.

Avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day – schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening. 

Get players acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of workouts or exercise until they are more accustomed to the heat. 

Have players take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes to drink fluids and try to have them stay in the shade. 

Those in charge should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather. Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or lightweight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts. 

Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely. Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well. 

The Red Cross offers First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches. This course is perfect for teens and adults who coach at all age levels. Developed with the National Federation of State High School Associations, this course teaches first aid skills to use in a variety of situations encountered by coaches. After successfully completing the course, coaches can print a certificate of completion that is valid for two years. Coaches are encouraged to take a CPR/AED course as well.

“The goal of the American Red Cross is to help you prepare for and respond to emergencies, and to be Red Cross Ready in any setting,” said Shawn Schulze, Chief Executive Officer of Louisiana Red Cross. “Here in Louisiana, where youth sports are a way of life, it’s important to remember the risks associated with practicing and conditioning for outdoor fall sports, and how to recognize the signs of heat illnesses, to keep our youth strong and healthy.”

Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are an early sign of trouble, and athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well. If someone is experiencing heat cramps, get them to a cooler place to rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and slowly replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition signaled by cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or dizziness; or weakness and exhaustion. To treat heat exhaustion, move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink slowly. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 911.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency when someone is overwhelmed by heat and their body begins to stop functioning. Signs include hot, red skin that could be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 911 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. If possible, move the person to a cooler place and immerse them up to their neck in cold water. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

There are several different ways to learn what to do in a first-aid emergency. The Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED training to teach officials, coaches, trainers and students how to respond in a first aid, cardiac or breathing emergency. The in-classroom training can be supplemented with a free online refresher during the two years after learners become certified. Course information and registration is available at redcross.org/takeaclass.

Coaches and student-athletes can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App which features step-by-step instructions for first aid scenarios and a 9-1-1 call button, as well as safety and preparedness tips for a range of conditions including severe weather and disasters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to