Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

September 10, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Youth Participating in Sports Can Be at Risk for Injuries

Safe Kids Kansas Encourage Parents to Keep Children Safe On and Off the Field

TOPEKA, Kan.  - With the kickoff of fall school sports, Safe Kids Kansas is encouraging parents and coaches to keep children safe on and off the field and prevent sports injuries, including heat-related illnesses. Nearly three-fourths of U.S. households have at least one child who plays organized sports. Unfortunately, about 3.5 million children receive medical treatment for a sports-related injury each year, and as many as half of these injuries are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“With high temperatures and vigorous practice sessions underway for school age children, parents and coaches have an even greater role to play in keeping children safe and injury free,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “It’s vitally important to set realistic expectations for children about sports and understand how to help them prepare properly, prevent injuries and play safely.”

The summer heat has brought particular attention to the dangers of heat stroke, one of the leading causes of sudden death in sports. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the number of heat-related injuries from 1997 to 2006 increased 133 percent. Youth accounted for the largest proportion of heat-related injuries or 47.6 percent.

According to a leading expert on heatstroke, Dr. Douglas Casa, over the past five years, the number of heat stroke deaths from exertion in youth sports is higher than in any five-year period in the past 35 years.

“One of the most powerful protective steps in assuring that athletes stay hydrated is proper time and access to fluids during physical activity,” said Casa, a researcher and professor at the University of Connecticut and chief operating officer at the school's Korey Stringer Institute. “Coaches and parents supervising youth activities in the intense heat must have policies or guidelines in place so that youth athletes can stay cool and properly hydrated during practices and events.”

A national survey commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide in April 2012, funded by Johnson & Johnson, confirmed parents and coaches need more youth sports safety information. In fact, when asked in a survey of over 750 coaches, 73 percent of coaches reported that they would like more training in heat illness prevention. Additionally, only 1 percent of young athletes reported having heard about heat illness as a type of sports injury. 

Safe Kids offers these important tips for coaches, parents and league organizers to prevent heat illness and dehydration:

For more information on safe sports injury prevention, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-0351 or visit

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