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UNC report: Heat-related deaths in high school football players dip, but all are preventable
Date:7/30/2008

Provide cold water before, during and after practice in unlimited quantities.
  • Provide shaded rest areas with circulating air; remove helmets and loosen or remove jerseys; some schools have plastic outdoor pools filled with ice for cool-downs after practice.
  • Athletes should weigh in each day before and after practice and their weight charts should be checked in order to treat any who lose excessive weight each day. Generally, a three percent loss in body weight through sweating is safe; five percent is in the danger zone.
  • Know the symptoms of heat illness: nausea, incoherence, fatigue, weakness, vomiting, muscle cramps, weak rapid pulse and visual disturbance. Contrary to popular belief, heat stroke victims may sweat profusely.
  • Have an emergency plan in place; parents should inquire about emergency plans for their children's teams.

Along with the two confirmed fatal cases last year, there was one other death of a high school player that might have been due to heat stroke, but no autopsy was performed. This compares to five heat stroke deaths in 2006. In the past decade, there have been only two years when no such deaths were recorded: 2002 and 2003.

In all, the 2007 football season saw 13 fatalities among the estimated 1.8 million players. Including the three high school deaths mentioned above, there were nine "indirect" fatalities (e.g. heat stroke, heart related, etc), as well as four "direct" deaths, which are defined as fatalities resulting directly from participation in the fundamental skills of football, such as tackling and blocking.

Of the indirect deaths, six were high school players, one was a college athlete, one was a sandlot player, and one semi-professional. Along with 2003, last year was the only time since 1999 that the total number of indirect fatal injuries has been in the single figures.

Among the four direct fatalities, three were in high school fo
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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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