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How to Keep Athletes Safe During Fall Sports Practices

Heat Safety
Avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day.

Student athletes are back on the field, practicing for fall school sports. Statistics show millions of them will suffer injuries, and the American Red Cross has training available to teach students and coaches what they should do if someone is injured.

School athletes account for millions of injuries and doctor visits every year. According to a report by the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System that looked at the 2012-2013 school year, football (boys), wrestling (boys), basketball (girls and boys) and soccer (boys and girls) had the highest injury rates per athlete. The most common injuries affecting them were strains and sprains followed by concussion.

There are several different ways to learn what to do in a first-aid emergency. The Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED training to teach people how to respond in a first aid, cardiac or breathing emergency. The in-classroom training can be supplemented with a free online refresher during the two years after learners become certified.

The Red Cross also offers First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches. This online three-hour course is perfect for teens and adults who coach at all age levels. Developed with the National Federation of State High School Associations, this course teaches first aid skills to use in a variety of situations encountered by coaches. After successfully completing the course, coaches can print a certificate of completion that’s valid for two years. Coaches are encouraged to take a CPR/AED course as well.

FIRST AID APP Coaches and student athletes can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App which features step-by step instructions for first aid scenarios and a 9-1-1 call button, as well as safety and preparedness tips for a range of conditions including severe weather and disasters. The First Aid App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

ATHLETE SAFETY Summer heat and humidity can be especially hazardous as athletes begin to get ready for the upcoming season. Here are some steps coaches and officials can take to help keep them safe:

  • Avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day – schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening.
  • Get players acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of workouts or exercise until they are more accustomed to the heat.
  • Have them take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes to drink fluids and try to have them stay in the shade.
  • Those in charge should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather.
  • Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.
  • Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
  • Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well.
  • For more information on what to do to help someone affected by the heat, visit the heat safety information on this web site or download the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Checklist.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.