In August 2002, the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance listed five guidelines of heat safety coaches, teachers, personal trainers, and other administrators should use when allowing students and athletes to engage in exercise and sports activities during hot weather. These five guidelines include the following.
1. Schedule physical education and practice times during the coolest parts of the day. This part of the day should be chosen in the early morning or in the evening hours.
2. Monitor the weight of the participants before and after the activity.
3. Do not require participants with heat-related symptoms to continue with the activity.
4. Thirst is not always an accurate indication of need for water. Encourage the participants to sip some water in intervals before, during, and after practice.
5. Limit practice time on days with extreme heat.
It is no secret that there have been several tragedies in the news concerning heat-related deaths and injuries that have taken place in school physical education classes and athletic games. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance notes a particular court case, Roventini v. Pasadena School, that was held in 1997 which convicted coaches and other administrators of negligence in the heat exhaustion death of a student.
The Journal also cites a case, Brahatcek v. Millar School, in which the term “special relationship” was introduced. Although not a heat-related case, it was found that coaches and other administrators have a duty to protect students under their care. This duty of care is a special relationship whereby those students and athletes under the supervised care of a teacher, coach, or other administrator must be kept as safe and injury-free as possible.
If these five guidelines of heat safety are followed, participants can enjoy physical activities and sports while staying as safe and injury free as possible.