Most parents don’t question their children’s athletic coaches as long as the coaches seem to be capable and responsible. But there’s a good chance the coach — especially if he’s a volunteer parent with no formal training — doesn’t know the rules of the game for prevention of heat illness, monitoring and treatment.

The authors of Climatic Heat Stress and the Exercising Child and Adolescent, a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, offer the following advice on what parents can do to protect their children from heat illness:

  • Talk with the coach at the beginning of the season about his or her level of understanding about how heat stress affects young athletes.

  • Check with organizers of tournaments to find out if they are prepared to treat athletes who suffer heat stress.

  • Work with other parents to bring coolers to tournaments filled with ice, small ice bags, and wet washcloths and bedsheets.

  • Take kids to an air-conditioned building to lower their body heat during breaks between games.

  • Encourage children to get used to intense heat and humidity gradually in the weeks before the sports season.

  • Educate kids about heat illness, including:

    • the symptoms, such as feeling sick, confused, dizzy, sleepy or otherwise ill while exercising in hot weather;

    • prevention strategies, such as drinking enough fluids;

    • the importance of wearing loose-fitting light clothing; and

    • the necessity of adequate cooling and rest periods in shaded areas.

  • Empower children to say “no” respectfully to a coach who is asking them to do something they feel is risky in intense heat.