Injury Research and Policy Heat-Related Injuries Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

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Exertional Heat Related Injury Informational Video

Heat-Related Injuries

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Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy examined exertional heat-related injuries, which are injuries that occur as a result of exercise or physical activity during warm or hot temperatures. Unlike classic heat-related injuries, exertional heat-related injuries do not require extremely high ambient temperatures to cause harm. During the 10-year study period, an average of 5,500 cases were treated in emergency departments each year with approximately half sustained by children and adolescents under 19 years of age. While the majority of injuries occurred during sports, exercise, or outdoor recreation, 1 in 5 exertional heat-related injuries were sustained during “everyday” activities such as yard work, home maintenance and moving furniture. Adults 40 years of age and older were more likely to sustain injuries while doing these “everyday” activities than were younger age groups.

Exertional Heat-Realted Injuries

Exertional heat-related injuries are injuries that occur as a result of exercise or physical activity during warm or hot temperatures. More than 5,500 exertional heat-related injuries are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year. These injuries can happen to anyone and often happen during sports, exercise and “everyday” activities such as mowing the lawn and working on the house.

Exertional Heat-Related Injury Facts

  • It does not have to be very hot outside for exertional heat-related injuries to happen.
  • Most of the exertional heat-related injuries to children and teens happen during sports and recreation.
  • For adults, golf, exercise and mowing the lawn are activities that lead to many exertional heat-related illnesses.
  • 1 out of 4 injuries occurs while people are performing everyday activities such as yard work, home maintenance and moving furniture.
  • Common symptoms include:
  • High body temperature
  • Headache
  • Heart feels like it is “racing” or beating faster than usual
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/feeling sick to your stomach
  • Confusion
  • Passing out

Tips for Preventing Injuries

  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity. Cold water and flavored sports drinks are best. Avoid fruit juices and sodas.
  • Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, either before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Take frequent breaks to rest in a cool, shaded spot while doing outdoor work or being physically active.
  • Parents and coaches should aways remind young athletes to drink lots of water before, during and after any exercise.
  • Young athletes should be gradually exposed to extreme playing conditions, including hot temperatures.
  • Parents should consult with coaches about changing practice sessions or games if they occur during the hotter parts of the day.

Heat-Related Injuries Resources

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