Heat Illness

New Law Requiring Training in Heat Illness for all California Coaches Took Effect January 1, 2019

On June 1, 2018, AB 2800 - California High School Coaching Education and Training Program: heat illness, was signed into law by Governor Brown that requires coaches when renewing their CPR/FIRST AID, Concussion and Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) certification that they also complete separate training in the signs and symptoms of heat illness. The law took effect on January 1, 2019.

A FREE online course “Heat Illness Prevention” is available through the CIF and NFHS at https://nfhslearn.com/courses/61140/heat-illness-prevention and will satisfy this mandated requirement by California law.

Heat illness is a preventable tragedy. It is imperative that school leaders ensure, that those adults working directly with our students have the knowledge and ability to minimize risks and reduce injuries for the students they serve.

A proper acclimatization plan is essential to minimize the risk of exertional heat illness during the early season practice period. Gradually increasing athletes’ exposure to the duration and intensity of physical activity and to the environment minimizes heat illness risk while improving athletic performance. California has a wide range of environmental factors (beaches, mountains, deserts) that face schools and student-athletes and the acclimatization period is vital to minimize the risk.



Exercise produces heat within the body and can increase an athlete’s body temperature. Add to this a hot or humid day and any barriers to heat loss such as padding and equipment, and the temperature of the individual can become dangerously high. If left untreated, the elevation of core body temperature can cause organ systems to shut down in the body. 



There are several ways to prevent heat illness from occurring:

Adequate Hydration

  • The athlete should arrive to practices, games, and in-between exercise sessions well-hydrated to reduce the risk of dehydration
  • Water should be freely accessible and water breaks should be given in the shade if available at least every 15-20 minutes and should be long enough to allow athletes to ingest adequate volumes of fluid.  Unnecessary equipment should be removed during breaks.

Gradual Acclimatization

  • Intensity and duration of exercise should be gradually increased over a period of 7-14 days to give athletes time to build fitness levels and become accustomed to practicing in the heat.
  • Protective equipment should be introduced in phases.

Additional Prevention Measures

  • Provide appropriate medical coverage during exercise.
  • Encourage hydration status record-keeping.  Athletes can weigh-in before and after practice, ideally in dry undergarments in check hydration status. The amount of fluid lost should be replaced by the next session of activity. An athlete should drink approximately 16 oz of fluid for each kilogram of fluid lost (1 kg = 2.2 lbs).
  • Eat a well-balanced diet which aids in replacing lost electrolytes and avoid drinks containing stimulants such as ephedrine or high doses of caffeine.
  • Alter practice plans in extreme environmental conditions.  Coaches should be aware of both the temperature and humidity.  The greater the humidity, the more difficult it is for the body to cool itself.  Use one of the heat index tools listed below to determine precautions for athletic activity.  Athletes with heat illness risk factors should be closely supervised during strenuous activities in hot or humid climates. 



Heat Exhaustion

Heat Stroke

Heat Syncope

Exertional Hyponatremia

Heat Cramps



NFHS Position on Heat Illness

108°: Critical Response - addresses the dangers of heat illness in high school sports. Through personal testimonies from families who have been affected by exertional heat stroke and interviews with coaches, certified athletic trainers, kinesiologists, and other medical professionals, "108°: Critical Response" looks at the seriousness of heat illness and its underlying causes, as well as how to treat and prevent exertional heat illness

Heat Safety Tool - Cell phone app developed by OSHA, CDC, NIOSH to quickly determine the current heat index and relevant precautions

National Weather Service Heat Index

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