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Heat-related illnesses in Washington, D.C. football preventable

Interestingly, experts have now said that there is more than can be done to prevent heat-related deaths in football, and you might want to take interest in this report, since it talks about the lack of proper precautions in Washington, D.C. It's possible premises liability could kick in for these situations, since studies have been done to prove methods to prevent injury and death from heat-related illnesses. In the last several years, a number of people have died from heat-related illnesses on the field. This is in part due to heat acclimation not being done correctly, leading to overheating and heat stroke.

In one case, a 16-year-old football player was rushed to the hospital after he collapsed on the field during practice. He was treated for severe heat exhaustion, but he couldn't be saved and died four days later. An annual study by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina reported that there have been 52 deaths since 1995 in football due to heat-related illnesses. Of those, 41 were at the high school level.

Experts have claimed that each one of these deaths was actually preventable. There is a model heat acclimatization policy, for instance, which has been enforced in 13 states. In those states, there have been no heat-related deaths in high school football.

What's the treatment that is supposed to be used? Immediate and aggressive cooling with ice water. The victim should be submerged within 30 minutes of collapse. This has proven to have a 100 percent survival rate.

Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia still don't enforce these acclimatization tactics. Because of that, they don't meet the National Athletic Trainers' Association's standards. Their premises could potentially be held liable for failing to do everything possible to prevent these deaths. Under the right policies, practice times would be limited for the first 7 to 14 days of the season, allowing players to work up to the amount of heat they have to endure. This in itself could be enough to prevent injuries and deaths.

Source: The Washington Post, "The heat is on: Experts say more can be done to prevent heat-related deaths in football" Tom Schad, Aug. 13, 2014

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