June 10, 2005
With average summer temperatures in the Charlottesville area ranging from 80 to 90 degrees, prolonged outdoor activities can become dangerous for children. UVa is doing its part to help kids and parents stay healthy and hydrated this summer
At least 70 children are treated at the UVa Medical Center each summer suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. All of these children were playing sports in the blistering sun.
"[If you want to] protect yourself against heat illness, you need to pay attention to the temperature outside as well as the humidity," said Chris Ingersoll, PhD.
Ingersoll lectured at the UVa Sports Medicine Conference about the dangers of children playing sports in the hot sun and the proactive way UVa is trying to help parents. Starting last summer, UVa set up a heat hotline where parents can call and get the temperature for the day based on a colored flag.
"You can call the heat line and you can get a flag that will tell you what to do, and there are also some recommendations on what to wear, how often to rest, and hydration levels," said Ingersoll.
By calling the hotline, parents can plan ahead, but when your child is out on the field, knowing when to stop and rehydrate themselves is the key to prevent illness, something some parents say is hard for children to do.
"Kids play too hard. They're not going to take the time, if they are having fun, to stop and hydrate themselves," said Kathy Simmons, a Little League parent.
Unfortunately, this was the case before the tonight's little league game. "We have one player who is not here tonight because during field day earlier today he didn't have his drink money or didn't go drink water and he did probably have heat exhaustion."
Experts recommend children drink 12 oz of water before the big game, and during the game drink 8 oz every 20 minutes to stay hydrated.
"Most, if not all of these instances of heat illness are preventable," said Ingersoll.
If you'd like to call the Heat Hotline, the number is 434-243-7207. The temperature is calculated twice a day from readings taken at the Charlottesville/Albemarle Regional Airport.