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To keep kids in top shape for sports, it’s important for them to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in (such as through sweating). When kids don’t drink enough water while playing sports, they could be at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
Encourage athletes to drink the right amount of water. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:
Kids will know if they’re drinking enough water if their urine is clear or the color of lemonade.
The severity of dehydration can vary from mild to life-threatening if left unchecked. There are three levels of dehydration: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Symptoms range from muscle cramping in the calves, back, arms or abdomen (heat cramps) to faintness or dizziness, nausea and rapid heartbeat (heat exhaustion) to collapse, emotional instability and very high body temperature (heatstroke).
If an athlete is dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911 if his or her condition doesn’t improve and worsens. Move the athlete to shade and cool the body with cold water. Have the athlete drink cool water, remove any equipment and excess clothing and lie down, raising his or her legs about 8-12 inches.
Make sure the athlete gets checked out by a doctor or medical personnel and is cleared before returning to play. If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately and make every effort to cool the athlete. Treat heatstroke victims right away by immersing them in cold water before the ambulance arrives. If immersion is not an option, soak the child with cold water from a shower, hose or soaking towel.
For more on how to stay injury-free during sports, check out more sports safety articles.