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MUSC Health Blog

Date: Jul 20, 2015

Guest Post by:

Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

It’s that time of year again……High School Football season!  July 31st marks the first day of high school football pre season training in South Carolina.  Hopefully, our student athletes have had a fun and safe summer, but now that the summer is over we find out how prepared they are for the upcoming season.Football players on field

All high school football programs have a different policy for summer training.  Some make it mandatory to participate in a strength and conditioning program run by the coaches.  Some trust their student athletes to train on their own.  When the football players report to the first day of practice, some will be in the best shape of their lives, some will not.  It’s likely to be very hot and very humid.  In order to protect the athletes, coaching and sports medicine staffs have to account for the varying levels of fitness and prepare for the worst.  One way to do that is by setting a practice schedule that allows all players to acclimatize to the heat.

Allowing athletes to acclimatize to the heat, prepares their bodies to physical exertion in high heat and humidity.  This helps protect them from the varying stages of  heat illness.  Acclimatizing is a gradual increase of time and exertion in the heat.  Practices start with the football players wearing helmets, shirts, and shorts only.  Gradually, they add equipment until they are in full pads.  They also increase the time spent in the heat gradually.

Currently, there are only a handful of states that have mandates requiring heat acclimatization.    Some states do have guidelines and some states high school governing bodies have rules.  In South Carolina, teams follow a 14 practice schedule.  On practice day 1, they are limited to 3 hours in helmets, shirts, and shorts.  They gradually increase to full gear on day 14.

While we all want our student athletes to be able to relax and have fun over the summer, reporting to fall practice out of shape can be dangerous.  Not only does proper fitness increase their performance, but it also decreases an athlete’s chances of suffering a heat illness episode.  So encourage all your student athletes to have fun and stay in shape over the summer!

Water Safety

Did you know drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4? Three children die every day as a result of drowning. To keep children safe:

  • Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Install a four-sided fence around home pools.

The Charleston area offers many opportunities to get out on the water and recreational boating can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Make boating safety a priority when taking children out on the water.

  • Wear a properly fitted life jacket every time you and your loved ones are on the water.

Heat and Sun Safety

While many of us love the long hot summers here, they can be hazardous to children's health. Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.

  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
  • Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Seek medical care immediate if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.

  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child's skin helps protect against UV rays.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

Enjoy our great outdoors but follow these tips to keep you and the family safe this summer!

For more information and tips visit


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