Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Playground Tips: When is it too hot to play?

As we enter the summer season the heat presents a particular challenge for summer school and year round school locations. Principals and physical educators will face daily decisions regarding children’s heat health on the playground.

It should be noted that kids absorb more heat than adults while sweating less. The
result is a greater propensity for heat cramps, exhaustion or heat stroke.
So how hot is too hot for physical activity? The determination depends on a number
of factors like: how high is the humidity, how hot is it on the blacktop, what kind of
access do children have to water to hydrate, is there a shade area, benches to cool off
on, etc. The single most important factor to acknowledge is children seldom complain
when over heated and most children rarely self regulate.

Upon a return to the classroom, the symptoms of heat injuries often surface. Symptoms include:
• Heat Cramps- Early warning sign of heat exhaustion or stroke.
• Heat Exhaustion- Extreme sweating, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, nausea and
• Heat Stroke-Considered a medical emergency. Body Temp above 104 degrees,
confusion, deep breathing, stops sweating, and loss of consciousness.
Prevention Strategies include:
• Hydrate before and after physical activity.
• Avoid sweet or caffeinated drinks which dehydrate.
• Rest often at least each 20 minutes on hot days.
• Allow hats for outside use.
• Consider allowing water bottles in classrooms and playgrounds on hot days.
* Shorten Recess and outdoor exposure.