Hot Weather Guidelines

 

 

Hot Weather Guidelines

 

AFL Queensland has a responsibility to take a positive role in educating and increasing the awareness of all its affiliates and members about the dangers of physical activity in the heat.  With this in mind these guidelines have been formulated with specific reference to information provided in Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) guidelines.

 

These guidelines shall apply to AFL Queensland affiliates, members, administrators, officials, coaches and volunteers.

 

Exercise in the heat creates competitive demands on the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system’s function is to provide a constant blood supply to exercising muscles.  At the same time it must regulate body temperature by increasing skin blood flow in order to produce the sweat that assists in keeping the body cool.

 

High intensity exercise in a hot environment, with the associated fluid loss and elevation of  body temperature, can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke.

 

1.  Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)

 

The WBGT is one way of evaluating the environment and measures thermal stress.  It is a more reliable indicator than ambient temperature as it takes into account humidity.  The higher the humidity, the less likely the chance to cool off through the evaporation of sweat. Reference can be made to the Bureau of Meteorology website www.bom.gov.au for up to date temperatures.  In absence of the WBGT, all other factors mentioned in this guideline should be assessed and preventative measures taken.

 

2.  Fitness Levels and Athletic Ability of Participant

 

A number of physical/physiological characteristics of the athlete will influence the capacity to tolerate exercise in the heat, including body size and endurance fitness.  In endurance events an accomplished yet non-elite runner, striving to exceed their performance may suffer from heat stress.  The potential for heat related illnesses will be exacerbated if they have not acclimatized to the conditions and have failed to hydrate correctly.  An overweight and unconditioned athlete will generally also be susceptible to heat stress.

 

Sports Medicine Australia recommends participants drink 500mls before activity, 200mls every 20 minutes during activity and more than that if they are thirsty during or after activity.  (At least 500 mls).

 

 

 

3.  Age and Gender of Participant

 

Female participants may suffer more during exercise in the heat, due to their greater percentage of body fat.

 

Young children are especially at risk in the heat.  Prior to puberty, the sweating mechanism, essential for effective cooling, is poorly developed.  The ratio between weight and surface area in the child is also such that the body absorbs heat rapidly in hot conditions.

 

In practical terms, child athletes must be protected from over-exertion in hot climates, especially when required to exercise for 30 minutes or longer. 

 

Strategies for reducing the risk of heat illness in children should include the following:

 

Ø  Shade and Drinks – it is recommended that water or sports drinks be provided whenever children are being active.  Young athletes should begin regular drinking routines using water or sports drinks during training and competition.  Regular and effective drinking practices should become habitual to young athletes before, during and after activity.

 

Ø  Acclimatisation and overweight children – coaches/managers of overweight children and adolescents should take extra precautions to lessen the potential for heat gain.  It is recommended that whenever activity in hot conditions is unavoidable with these children, coaches/managers decrease the volume and duration of physical activity, and increase opportunities for drinking, rest, and shade as a matter of priority.  It is also recommended that training times be limited for non-acclimatised children during exposure to hot environments.

 

 

 

 

 

Preventative Measures

 

1.  Promotion of Fluid Intake & Hot Weather Guidelines

 

AFL Queensland recommends that all affiliates take the opportunity to promote the need for fluid intake and other hot weather management measures during hot conditions by utilising various communication mechanisms including:  public address systems, signage, programs/newsletter and through game officials.  The ground manager, all officials and participants should be aware of AFL Queensland’s hot weather guidelines prior to the competition/event, and should use the AFL Queensland hot weather guidelines checklist to assist with prevention of heat stress.

 

2.  Duration and Intensity of the Event/Competition

 

The combination of extreme environmental conditions and sustained vigorous exercise is particularly hazardous for the athlete.  The greater the intensity of the exercise the greater the risk of heat related symptoms eg. On ball players may be more at risk than say a full forward.  The following options should be considered in assisting to prevent heat related stress in events/competitions:

 

Ø  Scheduling match times before 9.00am and after 6.00pm to avoid the hottest part of the day;

Ø  Scheduling game times to place those more at risk (under 12 and girls) in cooler timeslots – before 11.00am and after 3.00pm;

Ø  Reduction in playing time and/or extend rest periods thereby providing opportunities for rehydration;

Ø  Encourage a high rotation of players from the bench;

Ø  Identify participants with medical conditions and suggest they not play or reduce their playing time considerably;

Ø  Allowing the clock to run where winning margin is considerable;

Ø  Provision of extra water and ice for wetting face, clothes and hair;

Ø  Increasing dressing room ventilation where possible;

Ø  Availability of bringing in portable fans/air conditioner;

Ø  Ensuring all children have access to sun screen lotion when participating in particular in the extreme.

 

 

3.  Cancellation/Postponement

 

       Prior to the Event

 

In the lead up to an AFL Queensland or affiliated league competition/event where extreme weather conditions are forecast, AFL Queensland or the affiliated league management reserves the right to cancel/postpone or alter competition/match format in the interests of participant safety.  AFL Queensland or its affiliated league will endeavor to provide as much notice as possible to all relevant parties affected by the decision, and to assist with the rescheduling of affected games where applicable.

 

Events/competitions/matches can be cancelled or postponed only after all relevant factors and options have been considered by AFL Queensland or its affiliated league in consultation with the Hot Weather Committee (see below) eg. the most logical person(s) able to make an informed judgment/decision about the situation. 

 

       Day of the Event/During the Event

 

On the day of the event, the match manager/Football Operations Manager/League Administrator/League President can cancel/postpone or take all reasonable steps necessary to address heat issues to ensure participant safety.  This decision can either be made as a result of their own determination or in consultation with identified Hot Weather Committee members.  In making this decision, reference should be made to these guidelines, the Checklist at Attachment A and the Sports Medicine Australia Guidelines. 

 

At the beginning of the competition/event/match a Hot Weather Committee should be identified as the first point of contact for the reporting of all heat related issues in addition to the Sports Medicine Officer on site.  The Hot Weather Committee is to comprise of – AFL Queensland or affiliated league official, one member from visiting club, one member from host club, or in the case of a State carnival or other representative fixture the Hot Weather Committee would comprise of – 2 x AFL Queensland staff members, and a local representative (endorsed by AFL Queensland). 

 

All officials, first aid staff and participants are to be informed that all heat issues are to be brought immediately to the attention of one of the Hot Weather Committee members. 

 

           

 

                                     

AFL QUEENSLAND HOT WEATHER GUIDELINES – CHECK LIST

 

DATE:………………..          Ground Manager:…………………………………….

 

Action Item

Yes/No

VENUE

 

Adequate water available and accessible to all participants

 

Ice and ice packs available and accessible to all participants – for purchase and for medical needs

 

Portable fans/air conditioners available

 

Promotion of fluid intake and hot weather care instructions via public address, program/newsletter, signage and through match managers

 

First aid officials aware of AFL Q Hot Weather Guidelines

 

 

 

COMPETITION/EVENT MANAGEMENT

 

Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature monitored (if available)

 

All officials have adequate access to fluids and rest breaks

 

Schedule games before 9am and after 6pm to avoid hottest period

 

Schedule youngest age groups and girls games before 11am and after 3pm (as the highest risk category of participant)

 

Hot Weather Committee Members identified prior to event start

 

Participants made aware of who Hot Weather Committee Members are

 

Coaches encouraged to rotate players more and rest those with medical conditions

 

Team Managers encouraged to bring additional ice packs, towels etc

 

Reduce playing time of games and increase rest periods

 

Allow clock to run if winning margin is considerable

 

 

 

HEAT ISSUE IDENTIFIED

 

If incident, ensure adequate medical care provided and person(s) monitored

 

If incident, ensure AFLQ Incident Report Form completed and retained

 

Refer to AFL Q Hot Weather Guideline, and consult with First Aid Officer, and Hot Weather Committee to assess situation

 

Have all measures been taken to rectify heat issue?

 

If no to above, additional measures to alleviate heat stress issues in venue actioned immediately and Hot Weather Committee members informed

 

If conditions do not improve from initial incident/report and all action taken to rectify - Hot Weather Committee convened to determine details for postponement and rescheduling of games

 

Consult AFL Q where required in the rescheduling of games

 

Report of cancellation/postponement provided to AFL Queensland along with scoresheets

 

NB:  The venue check list is not exhaustive and can be enhanced to cater for local arrangements.

 

 

References

AFL Queensland Risk Management Plan

Basketball Queensland Hot Weather Guidlines

                        Sports Medicine Australia Policy – Preventing Heat Illness in Sport

Sports Medicine Australia Guidelines for Cancelling or Modifying Sporting Events during Hot Weather                                                                                 

Netball Queensland Heat Stress Management Guidelines

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