Exposure to extreme heat and heatwaves may result in heat-related illness, including heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Sports people should be aware of the risks associated with heat illness, how to prevent it, how to recognise it, and how best to respond to a life threatening heat stroke incident.
Physical activity may lead to a much faster onset of heat illness symptoms, so you need to be alert of your own condition and those around you as the onset of symptoms varies from person to person depending on wide range of factors.
The risk is greatly increased if humidity is high, thereby reducing the cooling effect provided by sweat evaporation, or if protective sports clothing and equipment hinders sweat evaporation.
Symptoms may range from: cramping, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, obvious fatigue or loss of skill and coordination, unsteadiness, cessation of sweating, confusion, aggressive or irrational behaviour, collapse or ashen grey pale skin.
If any of these symptoms appear the person needs to stop activity immediately, get out of the heat and hydrate. If symptoms get worse, you may need to call 000 and avoid giving the person fluids to drink until an ambulance arrives and assesses them.
Of course, the best plan of action is to prevent heat-related illness in the first place. Stay hydrated, take breaks and try to keep out of the sun. If it’s too hot, just cancel or postpone the activity.
The Victorian Government has recently carried out an extensive review of the heat guidelines for sport and VicSport has published new fact sheets and heat policy templates.
For more information and advice on recognising, managing and mitigating heat health risks in sport and recreation visit Sport and Recreation Victoria's heat guidelines.
You can also check out Sports Medicine Australia’s hot weather guidelines. The Beat the Heat publication provides practical information on first aid and treatment of heat illness.