Playing sports after school is one of the great hallmarks of youth in America. One of the inherent risks we assume during athletic activities is the possibility of injury. Equally important, but much less frequent than common impact-related injuries, are injuries resulting from heat stroke and heat illness.
Heat illness occurs at a much rarer rate than impact injuries; however, the effects are severe. The worst cases of heat stroke result in death, while the mildest case requires a stay in the hospital. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke open up the school and its coaches to the possibility of a lawsuit.
The Stages of Heat Stroke
Between 1992 and 2012, forty high school athletes died after suffering heat stroke. A Frontline Report by PBS found that the window to prevent death from heat stroke in an overexposed athlete was five to ten minutes.
According to the medical definition of heat stroke, there are three stages of exposure that an individual goes through. Each stage of heat illness has its own signs to watch for:
Overexertion in the sun leads to salt and water loss, typically in the hands, feet, and calves. This loss of nutrients leads to lingering muscle spasms.
Once the body’s core temperature clocks 101 degrees Fahrenheit, the individual may feel symptoms including a headache, widespread cramping, nausea, higher thirst, and a general weakness.
When the body’s core temperature surpasses 104 degrees Fahrenheit, heat stroke begins. This stage is characterized by seizures, reddened dry skin, and confusion. Get help immediately.
If your child is performing on a sports team, one of the best ways to prevent the onset of heat stroke is through hydrating regularly. In order to monitor for heat damage after a strenuous sports practice in the heat, look for dark colors in urine. The darker the urine’s tone, the more urgently the individual needs to hydrate.
Heat Illness and the Law
The most common condition that leads to a student’s heat stroke is an athletic official’s choice to ignore safety rules and regulations during practice.
If an official decided to hold practice but reduced drill intensity and had players remove all padding, it would be difficult to build a successful case.
Possible Successful Case:
If that same official had his players run twenty wind sprints in full pads without a break, he would be responsible for creating a significant liability to his players. In that case, a lawsuit would definitely be worth pursuing.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
While hydration is important to reduce the risk of heat stroke, more steps are necessary. If your child suffered from heat stroke under the carelessness of a coach or other athletic school official, you should contact a legal professional with the experience to help you mount a successful case. Contact us today at (888) 251-7535 or (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation if you or a loved one have received heat related injuries as a result of someone else’s actions.