Play it Safe with Kids’ Sports

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Its just about time for school to start again (is summer vacation getting shorter?) and that means the start of sports programs for your children. The hot summer climate we’re still “enjoying”, and the increasingly competitive climate in children’s sports may raise some concerns about the safety of those programs. Here are a few guidelines to follow when evaluating your child’s athletic ventures.

It seems that over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of children dying during, or soon after, sports games or practices. Most often the cause of death is a heart defect or severe dehydration. So, what can you, the parents, do to protect your child as he participates in “2-aday” practices for football, or she runs laps on a hot track? See a doctor, hydrate and check for injuries 안전놀이터.

A good sports program should require a “physical” and a medical release form signed by a physician. Prior to the check-up the doctor should be told that the child will be participating in sports so that he can look for and identify pre-existing conditions such as asthma and other pulmonary disorders, and any heart conditions. If your sports program doesn’t require a physical, have one done anyway just to be on the safe side. The increased ozone and pollution levels that come with summer heat merit close attention too, as they can exacerbate physical conditions that might otherwise be easily managed. Get the doctor’s approval before letting your child begin a sports program, and heed warnings to stay indoors on level orange and red pollution days.

Always make sure your child is well hydrated. It is important for him to be well hydrated before he arrives at the practice or game and it is important for him to continue to hydrate. Understandably, you might not be able to attend all of the team’s practices to monitor your child’s water intake, so make sure you make your child aware of the importance of drinking water. Make sure the coaches, too, understand the importance of hydrating. The rule of thumb for drinking before, during, and after exercise, is to stop for fluid breaks every 15-20 minutes. Water is a great option for hydrating your kids, but if they don’t like the taste (or lack there of) then look to a sports drink or watered-down juice to keep them lapping it up. If your kids are staying active for more than an hour at a time, sports drinks are a better choice because of the calories (energy) they provide, and the electrolytes they help replace. Water has zero calories which means zero energy. Be sure to stay away from carbonated drinks — they only provide stomachaches.

Injuries are another problem to watch out for. Again, if you are unable to attend practices/games, you may be unaware that your daughter rolled her ankle, or your son fell on his wrist. It’s a good idea to ask for specific details about how the practice was, and give your child a good visual once-over to make sure he’s not limping or favoring one arm over the other. Any injury that occurs at an early age and goes untreated will probably plague your child for many years to come. Make sure the coach is aware of injuries and make doubly sure he does not allow your child to play while injured. We all loved watching Keri Strug nail that last vault during the ’96 Olympics with a hurt ankle, but that definitely was a bad idea. She is very lucky if she isn’t still struggling with that ankle today. Why risk a lifetime of pain and restrictions to win — even a gold medal?

Be overly involved in your children’s sports programs. Go to the practices, go to the games, talk to your kids, their coaches, and their doctor all season long, and the next and the next. Make it your goal to focus on children getting good exercise, having a great time, and honing athletic skills. And do it all in a safe environment.

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