Hot Weather Resources

Resources on this page can assist sport organisations to mitigate the risks of exertional heat illness during hot weather. The resources are relevant for state sport associations, regional sports assemblies, local governments, clubs, leagues and associations.

Vicsport aims to promote good policy and practice to protect the health and safety of participants, officials, coaches, parents, volunteers, staff, sports trainers and spectators, whilst supporting continued participation in sport and active recreation.

Resources have been developed in partnership with Sport and Recreation Victoria the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention.

Exertional Heat Illness is a term used for medical conditions caused by exposure to heat during physical activity. It includes the following conditions which can occur during participation in sport or active recreation:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heat Syncope (Fainting)
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Exertional heat illness may occur during warm to hot conditions, and may even occur during cooler conditions, particularly if the participant is exercising vigorously or has other individual risk factors that increase the chances of it occurring.

Exertional heat illness can be prevented by knowing the risk factors, signs and symptoms and applying prevention strategies to minimised the risk of it occurring.

Risk factors and mitigation strategies

Several factors can increase the risks of heat illnesses occurring during sporting participation including:

  • Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and solar radiation
  • Individual factors such as age, dehydration, medical conditions or inadequate acclimatisation to local conditions
  • Other factors specific to sports such as playing surfaces, venues, level on intensity of participation, clothing and equipment, or the time of day the activity takes place.

A risk management approach is recommended when addressing exertional heat illness and its associated risk factors. This includes the undertaking of a risk assessment to identify any risks so appropriate mitigations can be put in place to reduce the risk. Mitigation strategies will likely vary from sport to sport, and may include:

  • Rescheduling activities
  • Modifying rules to allow for more breaks
  • Reducing the duration of participation
  • Providing shade, water and sunscreen
  • Promoting awareness and education about the causes of exertional heat illness

Vicsport is pleased release the Hot Weather Guidelines for Sport & Active Recreation. Informed by evidence and advice from the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention, the guidelines contain information about:

  • Trends in extreme heat
  • Heat illness conditions including signs and symptoms
  • Risk factors affecting sport and active recreation
  • Mitigation strategies
  • Advice on communicating modifications to activities

Click here to download the guidelines.

It is not possible to develop a uniform extreme heat policy for all sports in Victoria. This is because the risk factors vary based on the intensity, location and profile of participants. The varying governance structures also require tailored approaches to policy across the sports sector. Therefore, state sport associations should undertake the following steps:

Step 1 – Review existing policies or guidelines

  • Consider whether the current hot weather guidelines and policies in place are consistent, easy to understand and up to date with current available evidence.
  • Review what is in place for affiliated clubs, leagues and associations and consult with your national sport organisation in case they are developing relevant resources.

Step 2 – Consult with key stakeholders in the sport

  • Speak to affiliate clubs, leagues and associations to find out what support they require.
  • Consider conducting a survey of participants, including parents, volunteers, officials, to identify any issues or concerns about hot weather, plus strategies they would support for mitigating against risks.

Step 3 – Develop a plan

  • Identify the best option for hot weather resources for your sport – should there be a uniform policy across the state? Should you develop guidelines for clubs, leagues and associations to refer to? How can you promote awareness of the signs and symptoms of heat illness and encourage individuals to reduce their own risk?
  • Use the Vicsport Hot Weather Guidelines for Sport & Active Recreation, policy templates and posters to create resources relevant to your sport.
  • Ensure that any updated guidelines and policies are easy to understand and explain the roles and responsibilities of various people within the sport, including administrators, players, coaches and officials.

Resources

Hot Weather Guidelines for Sport & Active Recreation

Hot Weather Policy Template – State Sport Associations

Poster – Individual Preparation for Sport in Hot Weather

Poster – Signs and Symptoms of Exertional Heat Illness

Poster – First Aid Treatment of Exertional Heat Illness

Vicsport recommends the following steps be undertaken by clubs, leagues and associations. Please note, it is not possible to develop a uniform extreme heat policy for all sports in Victoria. This is because the risk factors vary based on the intensity, location and profile of participants.

  • Check if any guidelines or policies are available through you state sport association or national sport organisation.
  • Use the policy template to develop a policy for your club, league or association. Seek feedback from participants, parents, officials and volunteers to ensure the policy has buy-in across your membership.
  • Finalise and adopt the policy.
  • Download the posters below and place them in a visible position at your venue.
  • Ensure any changes made to weekly competitions, meets or activities are promptly communicated to members through your normal channels such as email, Facebook, your club website or competition management apps.
  • Promote strategies for individuals to reduce their own risk through appropriate preparation and hydration.

Resources

Hot Weather Policy Template – Clubs, Leagues and Associations

Poster – Hot Weather Guidelines (editable to match your policy)

Poster – Individual Preparation for Sport in Hot Weather

Poster – Signs and Symptoms of Exertional Heat Illness

Poster – First Aid Treatment of Exertional Heat Illness

Heat Health Alerts

The Department of Health and Human Services heat health alert system notifies local governments, departmental program areas, hospitals, and state-wide or major metropolitan health and community service providers of forecast heatwave conditions that are likely to pose an increased risk to human health.

The department has identified temperature thresholds for Victoria above which heat-related illness and mortality increases substantially.

Throughout summer, the department monitors the Bureau of Meteorology seven-day forecast maximum and minimum temperatures. When the heat health temperature threshold is reached in a specific weather forecast district, the department issues a heat health alert.

Sign up to receive heat health alerts here.

VicEmergency

VicEmergency provides updates and warnings for incidents related to fires, floods, storms and other environmental disasters. Sport organisations should be ready to refer to the website or download the smartphone app so that relevant information can be obtained in the event of environmental emergencies which threaten the health of participants.

Sports Medicine Australia

SMA is the leading source of information for injury and illness in sport and physical activity. They provide advice for sport organisations through training courses, workshops and events, fact sheers and guidelines.

www.sma.org.au


Fact Sheets

A range of fact sheets have been developed to assist sport organisations to promote awareness of exertional heat illnesses and actions to take if symptoms of heat illness present during sport activities.




Contact

To discuss the resources, provide feedback or receive one-to-one support please contact our Participation Strategy Manager Tom Dixon at tomd@vicsport.com.au or (03) 9698 8100.


Disclaimer

While all care has been taken in the preparation of this information, none of the author(s) or Vicsport including its officers, employees and agents, make any representation or warranty as to, or take any responsibility for, the accuracy, reliability, completeness or currency of any information or recommendations contained on this page, nor its usefulness in achieving any purpose. Vicsport is not liable to users of this page for any loss or damage however caused resulting from the use of this information and accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or your reliance upon it. This page does not constitute medical advice from a doctor or health professional. Vicsport recommends users seek independent medical and/or legal advice.Vicsport reserves all of its rights.


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