We have been experiencing some very hot weather this summer and it is important for sporting clubs to consider how the heat, UV and humidity affects the operation of the club and the safety of its participants. The heat may have an impact on training, matches, competition, meetings and other club activities and club officials have a role to ensure that the health of all involved is not compromised.
The Sports Medicine Australia website has some great resources at http://sma.org.au/resources-advice/policies-guidelines/hot-weather/ for the Hot Weather page that has links to their Beat the Heat Facts Sheet, Hot Weather Guidelines and the UV and Heat Exposure Guide.
Many sports through the State Sporting Association or local Associations have policies or guidelines that aim to guide clubs in the event that there are extreme weather conditions.
Vigorous exercise in sport places some people at risk of heat illness. Even in cool weather, heat illness may occur in those exercising at high intensity for more than 45 minutes. Heat illness may also occur with prolonged exposure to hot weather. The risk of heat illness is increased in hot and humid weather because; people may not be able to produce enough sweat for adequate cooling and high humidity may prevent adequate evaporation of sweat.
Some Golden Rules for Training and Competition for individuals;
• Achieve a high level of physical fitness before exercising strenuously in competition, or in warm weather.
• Exercise at moderate intensity in hot or humid conditions.
• Do not undertake hard exercise, or exercise in hot or humid weather if you feel unwell or are recovering from recent illness.
• Drink water before, during and after exercise.
• Stop exercise if you feel unwell when exercising hard, or if exercising in hot or humid weather.
• Stop other sports participants if they appear unwell, confused or show loss of skill and coordination
Preventative measures can be undertaken to minimise heat injuries. Policies or procedures developed by the club may include the following types of things;
- The provision of shade, hats, appropriate sunscreen, spray bottles and drinking water.
- It is important to have trained personnel available to manage heat injuries and designated recovery areas for patients.
- Reduce the duration and intensity of an event and extending rest periods with opportunities to rehydrate during the event
- Player and official rotation may also be considered
- Provision of extra water for wetting face, clothes and hair is also important.
- A fan to enhance air movement would be beneficial if activities are conducted indoors
- Coaches may consider alternative training times and venues during hot weather. This might include re-locating to indoor venues or to aquatic venues for different training options.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day (usually 11 am-3 pm). Scheduling activities outside this time should be a consideration throughout any summer competition, training or event, regardless of the temperature.
- Radiant heat from surfaces such as black asphalt or concrete can exacerbate hot conditions. It may help to relocate to another area.
Sometimes the decisions to modify or cancel club activities can be criticized by participants, especially when there has been travel involved in getting to the event. By having policies in place that club officials can refer to and communicate with members, it can help to reduce the potential for conflict or pressure to change the decision.
This information is provided as a guide for clubs and GippSport staff can assist clubs to develop more specific guidelines for individual sports as required.