heat exhaustion in baseball

Heat Exhaustion In Baseball: Everything You Need To Know

heat exhaustion in baseball

Let’s face it. Watching games in 100+ degree weather can be miserable but imagine having to play in these conditions. As a baseball player or coach, you know that the game requires a lot of physical exertion and can be played in hot and humid conditions. While it’s important to stay active and push your limits, it’s also crucial to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and take steps to prevent and manage the condition. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about heat exhaustion in baseball, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


What Is Heat Exhaustion And Why Is It A Concern In Baseball?

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system becomes overwhelmed by heat and humidity and the body loses its inability to cool itself. It is often caused by a combination of high temperatures, high humidity, and physical exertion. The condition can occur when people are exposed to high temperatures, especially when they are not used to the heat.

Baseball players are at particular risk for heat exhaustion due to the length of games, the need for protective gear that can trap in heat, and the fact that games and practices often take place during the hottest parts of the day.

On the field, the temperature can sometimes exceed 100°, and the heat index, which considers both air temperature and relative humidity, can be even higher. If your team plays on artificial turf, then the temperature on the field can feel even hotter. 

Why does it happen?

When the body temperature rises, the body sweats to cool itself down. However, sweating is not always effective in cooling the body down in hot weather conditions. When the body temperature rises to a certain point, the sweat glands stop working correctly, and the body can no longer regulate its temperature. This can lead to heat exhaustion. 

It’s a serious condition that can lead to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses if left untreated. If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, it is important to take immediate steps to cool down and prevent further heat-related injury.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Diarrhea
  • Slow pulse
  • Clammy skin

What Is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a serious condition that happens when your body gets too hot, usually from being outside in hot weather or doing strenuous activity. Your temperature can get dangerously high, causing damage to your organs, and it can even be deadly if you don’t get help right away.

Heat stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in young athletes so if you think someone might be showing symptoms, you should call for emergency medical help and try to cool them down by getting them into a cooler spot.

The most common signs and symptoms of heat stroke in youth athletes include: 

  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Dry skin (not sweating anymore)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Seizure
  • Collapse
  • Rapid pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

Risk factors for heat exhaustion in baseball players

  • Being involved in strenuous physical activity in hot weather conditions,
  • Having a high body mass index
  • Being dehydrated
  • Taking certain medications. 

Heat Exhaustion In Kids vs Adults

Heat exhaustion is more prevalent in kids compared to adults for several reasons. For one, kids are more likely to be outside in hot weather and not have access to adequate hydration. Additionally, their bodies are not as efficient at regulating temperature as adults, making them more susceptible to heat exhaustion.

Finally, kids also tend to be less aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, making it more difficult to catch in its early stages.


Preventing Heat Exhaustion In Baseball

Now that you have a better idea of heat exhaustion let’s discuss some preventative measures to keep your child from getting it. Prevention is crucial and is the best medicine.

It’s easier said than done, but avoiding playing baseball during the hottest part of the day is the best thing to do. I understand that this can be especially difficult if you live in the South, but if at all possible, try to play after sunset when temperatures begin to cool down. When playing sports in hot weather, drinking plenty of fluids and taking breaks in a cool, shaded area is essential.

Wearing light, loose-fitting clothing will also help the body to cool down. This doesn’t pertain to the youth players, but parents watching their kids play in extreme heat should avoid drinking alcohol. 

If you think you or someone else has heat exhaustion, it is vital to seek medical help immediately. The person in question should move to a cool, shady area, and their clothing should be removed. If players get dehydrated, they must lie down and take off their shoes and socks. Wet the socks in a cooler, then place them around their neck if you don’t have a cooling towel. 

They should also drink fluids and apply cool compresses to the skin. If the symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately.


Favorite Products To Help With Heat Exhaustion In Baseball

As a parent of a baseball player in the Northeast, we aren’t always exposed to the extreme heat that some other players deal with in states like Texas, Georgia, Florida, etc.

I could definitely advise on how to keep warm watching games in April while there are still snow flurries, but if I want advice on how to deal with the heat, I go to the parents who deal with it every day.

Drink, Drink, Drink

The best way to protect yourself and your baseball player from heat exhaustion is to get plenty of water and rest. Drink early because pre-hydration is essential in preventing dehydration. This means drinking lots of water in the days leading up to a game when you know it will be hot. 

Even when players aren’t thirsty, they should be encouraged to drink. The goal is to be hydrated before they go to practices and games. To do this, be sure to drink electrolytes the week/night before games and continue the next day.

Otherwise, they are playing catch-up. During the games, they should drink water every 15 mins while in the heat. Many people think drinking water alone hydrates you, which is incorrect. You can drink so much water that you flush all your sodium out, making it worse. 

Electrolyte helpers:

If your electrolyte drink has sugar, it will not be a good source of hydration. You must find one that has no added sugar (or very little) for it to be effective. My son had been drinking one that we later learned had 12g of added sugar! 

Players should bring water, a sports drink with modest amounts of electrolytes, or electrolytes hydration packets, but nothing with caffeine. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and drains water from the body.

If you aren’t already using electrolytes powder packets, be sure to look at these options:

Also, if you don’t have an intake of salt, whether it’s chips or other snacks, you won’t retain any of the water you take in. This is really important to remember. 

Pickle juice/Pickle pops

Pickle juice has been a favorite summer thirst quencher, especially in states with extreme heat. It’s low-calorie and fantastic at relieving cramping from dehydration. Many baseball players will bring pickles to the games, and some even create frozen pops out of the pickle juice. 

Parents of kids playing in the South swear by it. Check out Van Holten’s Pickle Ice Pops. These things are fantastic. 

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Keeping Cool During Baseball Games

Cooling towel tips 

Ensure your child takes their hat off before applying a cooling towel to their head/face/neck before putting it on the back of his neck. Our bodies retain and lose heat from our heads and feet, so doing it this way will be more beneficial. 

On sweltering days with long breaks between games, have him take his shoes off and find a shady spot to sit or sit in the car with the AC cranking. I know it will be hard not to but try to discourage them from running around with teammates during the break. 

Frog Toggs – these cooling towels are fantastic for anyone who plays outdoor sports in the heat. The towel will be up to 25 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature in only a few minutes. What is impressive is that the towel can keep you cool for up to four hours.  

Peppermint in an ice bucket for cooling towels – Fill a small cooler dedicated to cooling towels with ice. Add a few caps of peppermint essential oil. The skin will get hot again when you remove the towel. However, when peppermint is added to the water, it will be absorbed by the skin, and you get a refreshing cooling sensation that will last much longer. 

Florida water cologne – You just put a couple of caps of this cologne in a cooler filled with ice water. Then dip a rag and place it around your neck.

It has a powerful smell, so be sure to use a separate dedicated cooler, or else your drinks and food will smell funky. 


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Misting fan – I bought one of these this year, and it was a massive hit with our summer ball team. The battery lasts hours, and one bucket of water should last the entire game. These fans weren’t too expensive, and they were worth it. 

There is also a way to purchase extension tubing so you could essentially turn the entire dugout into a large misting station. 

Icybreeze Air Conditioning Cooler – I love the concept, and it has fantastic reviews, but it is always out of stock. 

Ice packs – People might think you are strange but try having your baseball player put ice packs under his armpits, groin, and neck while in the dugout. The ice packs will cool him down quickly. 

Summer cooling vest – This is an excellent product for catchers to use in between innings. In addition to the heat, they have all that extra protective gear on. The vest will help cool them down when they are not in the field. 

Popup tent – I’m pretty sure that we used ours during every game from June through August. If you can convince some of the other baseball parents to get one too, you can create your own little shaded compound.

Sunscreen

I am paranoid about sunburns and skin cancer, so we always make sure to apply sunscreen before and in between games. Use at least SPF 30. My kids are albinos like their mom, so it doesn’t take much to burn that pale Irish skin.  


Final Thoughts On Heat Exhaustion In Baseball

As the summer heat and humidity peak, so does the risk of heat exhaustion in baseball players. In the United States, heat stroke is the leading cause of death in young athletes, with most cases occurring during summer. While heat stroke can happen to anyone, those who participate in outdoor activities or sports are at a higher risk. 

While the cause of heat stroke is still unknown, several risk factors have been identified. These include dehydration, overheating, and extended exposure to heat and sun. Heat stroke usually occurs when the body’s internal temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. 

Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Heat stroke is a severe condition that can lead to death if not treated promptly. While there is no sure way to prevent heat stroke, steps can be taken to reduce the risk. These include staying hydrated, avoiding extended exposure to heat and sun, and wearing loose-fitting clothing.

If you want to know more about Baseball!

Chris F.

Chris F.

Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.
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