Umpires Could Be at Risk of Heat Related Illness

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On hot and humid day,umpires can struggle to beat the heat. Umpires should be conscious of staying hydrated and seek every opportunity to grab a little shade and a drink between innings. The Athletic Trainers' Society of New Jersey (ATSNJ) recommends steps to help umpires and athletes prevent heat illness during baseball and softball.

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Umpires need to be monitored for signs and symptoms of heat illness on the appopriate day

“Umpires probably need to be as vigilant and concerned as athletes when working a game in the heat” remarked Eric Nussbaum, President of the Athletic Trainers Society of New Jersey.

On a hot and humid day, Shore Conference Umpire Paul Hooker was struggling to beat the heat. “I felt it come on by the end of the second inning. I tried to push through it for a couple of innings and then it just got to me”. Hooker was removed from the game and attended to by the licensed athletic trainer when he complained of dizziness, difficulty breathing and an irregular heart rate.

“Umpires probably need to be as vigilant and concerned as athletes when working a game in the heat” remarked Eric Nussbaum, President of the Athletic Trainers Society of New Jersey. “Normally your body dissipates heat through sweating and evaporation but umpires often wear a heavy chest protector, dark clothing, and a hat or helmet which impedes their ability to dissipate heat”.

“I’m in good shape and this has never happened to me before” stated Hooker. I’m really glad that an athletic trainer was available and able to quickly cool me down and get me the appropriate care. I know heat illness can be bad and despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t work through it.”    

Nussbaum noted that “umpires should be conscious of staying hydrated and seek every opportunity to grab a little shade and a drink between innings." The excitement of the game generally elevates their heart rate, and their dark shirt and equipment absorbs the heat and just doesn’t allow them to appropriately dissipate it. This can be complicated with umpires who may be older, have health issues, may be on medications, and are overweight or not in great physical condition. Those who work multiple games in a row on a hot day can be at high risk as well.

The Athletic Trainers Society of New Jersey recommends that umpires and athletes who are working or exercising in the heat should first have a regular physical to assure they are in good health. Beating the heat requires that the athlete and umpire take the proper measures. These measures include: hydrating the night before with water or a sports drink, avoiding alcohol and caffeine which can dehydrate your body, considering a diet high in carbohydrates the night before the activity, consuming two glasses of water an hour before the competition, staying hydrated between innings, and when necessary removing your hat, mask and headgear as often as possible. In addition to these recommendations, the athlete and umpire should stay cool in between innings. The best ways to achieve this are to; get out of the sun, either in the dugout or a shady area near the field, and to use wet towels or ice packs as a means to help to fight off issues with the heat. Often umpires don’t drink enough fluid to compensate for all of the sweat loss. Thirst is not an adequate indicator of hydration, once someone is thirsty they have already fallen behind in the battle for proper hydration.

Proper heat illness education is vital. Umpires and athletes need to be able to recognize the warning signs of heat illness which include: dizziness, blurry vision, loss of energy, SOB, rapid heart rate, cramping, headache and extreme sweating.

ABOUT THE ATHLETIC TRAINERS’ SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
ATSNJ, Inc. consists of licensed athletic trainers, physicians and other allied health care professionals whose goal is to promote quality healthcare for athletes in any setting. The ATSNJ will tackle the issue of heat illness at their up their upcoming Sports Safety Summit which will be held August 1, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick. For further information, http://atsnj.org/summit

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