Enjoy Sports Safely This Summer
Sports Safety Tips for Summer
Summer's here, which for plenty of people means more time to play. Whether you're the one playing pick-up soccer games in the park on a Saturday or you're bringing your kids to various summer activities, such as swimming or sports practice, it helps to know what you can do to keep everyone safe.
Follow these summer sports safety tips to protect yourself and your family during the warmer months of the year.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Summer can mean sunshine and warmth but it can also mean thunderstorms and heatwaves. It's a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather, particularly on days when you or the kids have outdoor events and activities scheduled.
If there's a heat advisory issued, it's usually best to avoid any particularly strenuous activity, especially during the warmest part of the day. You can take your workouts inside to stay active without getting overheated.
Summer storms can form quickly. One minute it's sunny and the next thunder is rumbling and it's raining. It's a good idea to stop any outdoor sports or other activities the minute you hear thunder or see threatening clouds overhead1. Have people seek shelter, either in a nearby building or in their vehicles, until the storm has passed.
Use the Right Gear
Wearing the right gear during certain activities can help save your life or significantly reduce the risk of injury. The type of gear that's appropriate depends on the activity. Some examples of protective gear and its benefits include:
● Helmets. You and your children should wear helmets anytime you use something on wheels, whether it's a bike, a scooter or a pair of rollerblades. Some organized sports, such as football and baseball, also require the use of helmets. The helmet should fit properly, meaning it's snug against the head and doesn't tip forward or back.
● Mouthguards. If you or your children participate in sports where balls go flying or where there's a risk of falling, a mouthguard is a must. While you can purchase over-the-counter mouthguards at drugstores, getting one custom-fitted will offer the most protection.
● Shin guards and padding. Padding can help prevent injury during high-contact sports such as football. It's also a good idea to wear shin guards and protective gear during soccer matches, to protect your legs from kicks.
Shield From the Sun
A sunburn does more than hurt. It can also cause lasting damage to the skin, increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. You don't have to confine yourself to the indoors when the sun's out, as there are things you can do to reduce the risk of a bad burn and sun damage.
- Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 before you go outside2. Put the sunscreen on all areas of exposed skin. For continued protection, reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours or after about an hour of swimming or sweating.
- Cover up. Long pants and sleeves will protect your skin from sun damage, as can a hat with a wide brim if you can wear them while playing sports.
- Seek shade. If possible, seek out shaded areas so you're not roasting in the sunlight. At a pool or the beach, you can sit under an umbrella. If you're playing on a field, try to choose an area that's under a significant amount of tree cover.
The heat of summer can lead to dehydration and muscle cramps if you don't take in enough fluids. The time to drink water or sports drinks is before you feel thirsty. Try to drink about six ounces every 20 minutes when you're in the middle of an activity3. If you have kids who are playing sports, remind them to take a drink every 20 minutes or so.
While there are plenty of sports drinks out there, you don't have to spend a lot to get the hydration you need. Plain water, from the tap, is usually the best option for staying hydrated when playing under the summer sun.
Don't Be a Weekend Warrior
If you believe that weekends are made for extreme sports or strenuous activities, it might be a good idea to reassess that belief. If you're mostly sedentary during the week, then don’t try to train for a marathon or play sports for hours on end during the weekend, as you have a greater risk of injury.
For safety's sake, it's better to stay moderately active all week long than to try and squeeze in all your workouts or sports time during the weekend.
The same is true for your kids. If they play a sport during the year, it's a good idea to keep them involved in some form of physical activity during the summer, so they're conditioned and ready to get back on the field in the fall.
1. Lightning Safety and Outdoor Sports Activities, National Weather Service, https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-sports
2. Sun Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm
3. Sports and Hydration, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/drink-up-sports-fitness#1
4. Staying Safe This Summer Season, Children's MD, https://childrensmd.org/browse-by-topic/safety/staying-safe-this-summer-sports-season/