Heat and Hydration

     Each year high school athletes experience serious injury and even death as a result of heat-related illnesses.  It has become a major concern in that the number of deaths over the last 15 years has remained constant.  That statistic becomes more alarming given that heat-related illness and death are almost entirely preventable.  The need to dramatically increase awareness of the issue, recognize the symptoms of heat illness and treatment of suspected cases has become a primary consideration for early season practice routines.

     The Maryland General Assembly recognized the potential for ameliorating risk and has provided legislation to address the problem.  A model policy for preseason practice heat acclimatization guidelines for student-athletes is offered to Maryland schools to assist in the formation of local guidelines to address heat acclimatization.  It was formatted through a collaborative effort of representatives from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), Local School Systems, Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), Maryland Athletic Trainers Association (MATA) and Licensed Physicians who treat student-athletes.

     The contents of this document include education of coaches, parents, athletic administrators, and student-athletes; important definitions; hydration awareness; environmental and non-environmental risk factors; a heat acclimatization timeline; and a basic emergency plan.  The guidelines attempt to strike a safe balance between a gradual introduction and assimilation into athletic competition with the need to properly teach safe playing techniques.  The mitigation of other serious injuries must also be considered in any pre-season practice format.

Model Policy for Preseason Practice Heat Acclimatization Guidelines for Student-Athletes

The following list of resources is related to heat and hydration. This is important information for athletic administrators, coaches, athletes, and parents in all sports.

NATA "Preseason Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines For Secondary School Athletics"


CDC Heat Stress/Heat-Related Illness Guide

Korey Stringer Institute