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Dangerous Heat & Summer Sports

By Climate Central

Whether it’s a summer league or preparation for a competitive fall season, sports in the summer heat bring the risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Between 1997 and 2006, 75 percent of exertional heat-related injuries were associated with exercising or participating in a sport. The effect of heat and humidity combined, or heat index, is used by NOAA to determine how quickly heat-related illness can set in. As climate change increases the number of days when the heat index climbs toward the dangerous level, managing the heat during exercise will become more vital.

When a location hits the Extreme Caution category (90°F+), a healthy individual can start experiencing heat cramps. Nationwide, there are already many places that regularly spend much of their summer in this zone. The next category is Danger (105°F+), and that’s when the body starts to go into heat exhaustion. Overall, there are relatively few Danger days across the U.S., but that is changing with our changing climate. And as the planet continues to warm from increasing greenhouse gases, the number of Danger days is expected to rise — increasing the threat of heat-related illness.