Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

Managing Risks to Participants and Spectators at Special Events

Precautions can save lives and lawsuits

Community calendars are full of local organizations sponsoring tournaments, festivals, outdoor fundraisers, races, craft fairs and more. You’ll likely attend at least one yourself in any given season.

Those putting on such events are responsible for the safety and security of attendees, participants and vendors. That even includes, in some cases, their property. Weather is one risk that can’t be controlled, but Special event risk managementother potential risks can be mitigated.

Event organizers need to develop a risk management plan long before the event takes place. First-time planners should realize this is as important as planning the venue, advertising, catering, entertainment and other aspects of an event. There are everyday incident types that can occur, like a collapsed tent or injured runner. But terrorist attacks and active shooters at public venues in recent years drastically changed security protocols for public events.

A lot can go wrong

Every event requires preparation, of course. And each step offers opportunities to consider what could go wrong and how to prevent it. Below are some general steps that can be taken to lower the risk of injuries.

  • Law Enforcement and Fire Department: Police presence at the event, in parking lots and directing traffic improves security drastically. Consider requesting bomb-sniffing K-9 units. Notify the fire department well in advance of the event.
  • Registrant/Vendor Check-in: Require participants to provide a photo I.D. at registration to receive their packets/T-shirts/bibs. Vendors should also provide proof they are contracted to be at the event.
  • Baggage Check: Consider making a policy that guests can only bring in clear plastic bags. Otherwise, set a limit on the size and number of bags, totes, or backpacks attendees may carry in.
  • First Aid and Safety Station: Post clearly visible signs designating the location of the first-aid and customer relations stations. Arrange for an ambulance and EMTs to be present for the duration of the event. We recommend that a physician, athletic trainer and/or registered nurse be in attendance at any sporting event.
  • Volunteer Staff: Station your volunteers (wearing event T-shirts, hats or armbands) throughout the venue. This includes parking areas, to monitor the crowds, assist attendees, answer questions, and direct the flow of automobile and pedestrian traffic

Special Events Game Changers

We all know about game changers. Sometimes it’s a certain player, a momentum swing, the venue or fans. Other times it’s an event that makes us stop and rethink our views on one particular topic or another. The bombings at 2013 Boston Marathon qualify as a game changer.

It’s often a catastrophe that makes us re-evaluate our priorities. The Boston Bombings forced us to address our personal safety and the safety of participants at sporting events.

Increasing event security

In attempts to strengthen event security at its football games, the NFL banned spectators from bringing in purses, coolers, backpacks and other miscellany. Some view this as overkill. Others view it as the natural evolution in the continual ramp up of security measures in a volatile setting.

The tech revolution

The technology boom is also helping to strengthen event security. While closed-circuit television is still the Event securityindustry’s main method, the use of cellphones proves the most beneficial in enforcing safety regulations at sporting events. And not just among event staff. Many venues advertise a number for spectators to text or call if other patrons become unruly or are acting suspiciously.

And did you know there are apps available for reporting security issues? Fans may now anonymously submit complaints/observations using ISS 24/7 (or other) software. Game changer!

In addition to security hotlines, social media helps monitor patrons at sporting events. People love Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many sports teams and event management companies use these tools to their advantage. They post on their accounts to spread the word of inclement weather, evacuation notices and other pertinent information.

Smartphones are good for more than just checking your Twitter feed. They are also important in documenting fan behavior at games, both good and bad.  In a world where anyone can be famous on the Internet, staying on your best behavior can mean the difference between YouTube fame and infamy.

Special Events May Require Special Coverage

Every event is different, and safety should be priority No. 1. The security measure you put in place depends on its size, venue, attendance and other factors. And while some will stretch your budget, you’re not saving anything by taking unnecessary risks.

There is one element of the planning stage that should never be overlooked. Determining whether your insurance program includes the coverage needed for a safe event for everyone involved. That includes the hosts, participants, volunteers, vendors and guests.

There are risks involved in hosting and managing special events that may require either added short-term or annual coverage. Check with your agent about the following areas that require particular attention as you plan your event.

Vendors

Vendors can include caterers, tent and equipment rentals, concessions, security, and parking attendants. Sports risk managmentResearch your vendors thoroughly because poor service or a mishap on their part can spoil an entire event. Think of the potential consequences of a collapsed tent or food poisoning. It’s critical that each of your vendors provide you with a valid certificate of insurance evidencing General Liability with a limit of at least $1 million each occurrence. Require that they can add your organization as an additional insured on their policy.

Venues

It’s not unheard of for the actual venue of an event to be a factor that causes an accident or injury claim. Stages collapse, fire exits get blocked, and severe weather sometimes triggers the need for fast evacuations. The more knowledge you have about the number of people attending the event, the electrical equipment needed, and potential for severe weather, the better prepared you will be. For indoor events, make sure you know the emergency protocols of the building. This includes knowing where all the fire extinguishers, exits and stairwells are located. For outdoor events, be sure the terrain and any light/sound rigging are properly installed. Monitor the weather in the days leading up to the event as well as during the event – storms can pop up unexpectedly with disastrous results. Weather apps for smartphones alert you to severe weather watches and warnings.

Emergency Planning

Every event should have a unique emergency plan that all staff and volunteers receive and sign confirming they have read it. The emergency plan should include who has the authority to shut the event down or ask a vendor to vacate. Sudden storms, a shooter in the area, or a vendor with a lapsed permit are only a few examples of when someone may need to make an on-the-spot decision.  The emergency plan should also include a protocol for announcing a closing or changes in the event programming. It goes without saying that all event staff and volunteers should be familiar with the event emergency plan, to include medical Security at special eventsemergencies, lost children, crime and severe weather.

Security

Security often tends to get overlooked because it doesn’t generate income. But consider security an investment that reduces your risk of liability, which is just as good or even better than income. These security tips help make for a much safer event for everyone involved.

  • Volunteers are a great resource. But don’t use them for security enforcement purposes, such as dealing with unruly people, enforcing parking or alcohol regulations, or providing first aid. It’s best to have trained medical and law enforcement professionals handling these duties.
  • Using teachers, senior/varsity athletes and other community leaders is also not a good idea when it comes to maintaining order in the crowd. These temporary-authority figures aren’t always respected by others when they’re out of their element.
  • If you pay for professional security, don’t scrimp. Going with the cheapest security service may not be your wisest decision. Are their employees simply hired staff or trained personnel? Ask what types of sports events and what size crowds they can handle. Ask for examples of situations they managed to control and get references.

Sadler offers Special Event insurance and one of our insurance experts would be happy to help you determine what coverage your event needs.

And further information we have several articles related to reducing the risk of liability and injuries at special events. We can also provide a quick quote for tournament insurance and non-sporting events or you can contact us or call at (800) 622-7370.


Sources:
  • William Dyson. “Safe and Secure: How to Protect Your Event, Your Athletes and Your Spectators.” sportsdestination.com 07 Sept., 2018.
  • Kelly Martin,  “Safety and Security: Changing your game for the better,” Sports Destination Management. Sept./Oct. 2013.

Managing Charter Bus Risk for Sports Organizations

Including 5 tips to help reduce liability

One of our youth sports clients was recently involved in a serious charter bus crash. One child was tragically killed and some 45 others were hospitalized. This unfortunate incident resulted in extensive national media coverage. Worse was the pain and suffering of the sports organization, families, and community.

The use of charter buses is a relatively safe mode of transportation for sports organizations compared to other options. However, catastrophic crashes do occur and can result in serious passenger injuries and/or fatalities. In most cases, the charter bus company carries sufficient auto liability limits to cover the damages. But that is not always the case, and the sports organization can find itself in serious legal jeopardy.

Sports organizations can manage this risk by adopting the simple risk management precautions discussed here.

Safety of charter buses

National statistics indicate that traveling in a charter bus is safer than other common forms of travel. A charter bus is 50 times safer than a car, and twice as safe as air travel. However, serious charter bus accidents always capture intense media exposure, which may inflate the risks in the minds of the public.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” study for the period 2007-2008 found that almost one-third of NCAA Division I schools used charter bus services that had one or more deficiencies in federal safety scores. Of these 85 schools, approximately 35 used companies with an overall safety rating of “conditional.” This is one step under “satisfactory.” The U.S. DOT ratings range from “satisfactory” to “conditional” to “unsatisfactory.” These ratings are issued based on drug testing, record keeping, bus maintenance, and driver qualifications. It is recommended that a charter bus service should not be hired unless it has a rating of “satisfactory.”

Most athletic department administrators hire charter buses on the basis of price and availability, rarely paying attention to safety records. However, experts recommend giving safety records top priority, as will be explained later in this article.

Examples of common safety violations that raise red flags include reports of crashes, driver violations, Charter bus risk managementworn tires, unqualified drivers, failure to record entries in logbooks, driving without adequate rest, allowing drivers to operate before passing drug tests, and inoperable emergency exits.

Charter bus companies bear the brunt of the legal risk

The owner and the driver of the charter bus bear most of the legal brunt if something goes wrong. But the sports organization still owes a legal duty of due diligence in managing the hiring of the company and the supervision of passengers. Charter bus accidents often result in serious injuries or fatalities to multiple passengers. This means it’s possible for the auto liability limits of the charter bus company to be exhausted.

Sports organizations and their insurance policies may also be a deep-pocket target of plaintiffs’ attorneys

What if the charter bus company allows its auto liability coverage to lapse or the limits of the policy are breached?  Creative plaintiffs’ attorneys will find a way to identify other deep pockets – such as the sports organization. The sports organization may carry the following insurance policies, which could potentially be tapped:

  • Accident Insurance: Participant Accident Policies often provide coverage for not only practice and games, but also group transportation to and from practices and games. Accident policies include medical limits that commonly range from $25,000 to $250,000. However, medical coverage is usually excess to other collectible insurance, such as family health insurance. Accident policies also may include an accidental death & dismemberment benefit which commonly ranges from $5,000 to $20,000.
  • Non-owned and Hired Auto Liability (NOHA): A NOHA policy may be a stand-alone policy or may be endorsed onto a General Liability policy. NOHA liability provides coverage to the sports organization for its vicarious liability arising out of the use of a hired auto, such as a charter bus. Accident victims often allege that the sports organization was negligent in the hiring of a charter bus company with an inadequate safety record, with no insurance, or that they did not adequately supervise the wearing of safety belts by the minor passengers.

5 tips on how to manage the charter bus risk to reduce liability

  1. Select a charter bus company with a satisfactory safety record.  Before signing the contract of hire for the charter bus, request the DOT number. Then perform a Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) Systems search to determine the carrier’s safety rating (satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory). This link will also verify the carrier is authorized to transport passengers for hire; if the permissible territory of operation is interstate or intrastate; inspection records of vehicles, drivers, and HAZMAT; the crash record, and the date of the last compliance review. Only carriers with a satisfactory safety rating should be hired.
  2. Verify adequate insurance.  Use the carrier’s DOT number to perform a Licensing and Insurance Search. Verify the required limit of liability insurance and if the carrier currently carries a limit high enough to meet that  requirement. A $5,000,000 limit is required by federal law for charter buses that cross state lines and carry 16 or more passengers. The report will provide a list of policies in force from present to past including effective date, cancellation date, insurance carrier name, policy number, and limit of coverage.
  3. Verify a 24-hour emergency dispatch system. The charter bus company should have a 24-hour emergency dispatch system with live representatives on duty to respond to last minute changes, emergencies, and other unexpected problems that may arise.
  4. Wearing of seat belts.  Sports organizations traveling with youth participants should always provide adequate supervision to avoid lawsuits for negligent supervision. If the bus has seat belts, staff should make sure that all minor passengers are wearing their seat belts. Since November 2016, all newly-manufactured buses are required to be equipped with lap and shoulder belts for each Risk management and charter busesdriver and passenger seat.  The sports organization should make its best efforts to select a charter but with seat belts.
  5. Verify driver qualifications. Check that the charter bus company requires drivers to meet these qualifications:
  • Possess a commercial drivers license (CDL)
  • Pass a qualifying physical exam within the past two years
  • Undergo drug and alcohol testing
  • Adhere to DOT out-of-service regulations as follows: drives a maximum of 10 hours after being off duty for eight consecutive hours and does not drive more than 70 hours in an eight-day time period.

Source: Chad Cushman. “Charter Bus Safety: 5 Things You Must Know.” Indian Trails Blog. 29 Mar 2014.

Commotio Cordis in Sports and New NOCSAE Standard on Chest Protectors

Looking to provide athletes the best heart protection possible

Commotio cordis is a sudden cardiac arrhythmia caused by a direct blow to the chest. It typically results from a low-velocity impact to the chest from a thrown or batted ball, puck or other object typically traveling between 20 and 50 mph. The risk increases the closer the impact is to the center of the heart.Death results when an abnormal rhythm, ventricular fibrillation, develops. However, blood circulation to the heart may also be affected.

For commotio cordis to occur, the impact has to be precisely timed to strike the heart during a 15 to 30-millisecond phase of the electrical cycle. It can cause sudden death in young baseball, softball and hockey players, as well as other athletes.

Commotio Cordis by the Numbers

  • The sport with the highest incidence of commotio cordis is baseball, followed by softball, hockey, football, soccer and lacrosse.
  • An overwhelming 95 percent of cases affect males.
  • The most frequently affected age group is 10 to 18 years.
  • Since 1995, the U.S. Commotio Cordis Registry received reports of over 225 cases. Many more unreported cases are suspected of having occurred.
  • The Registry reports a survival rate of 24 percent.

Survival Outcome

While instances of commotio cordis are rare, sadly, the death rate is 90 percent. Unfortunately, the lack of response to CPR efforts by healthy young athletes is unexplained.

History shows that responding with CPR efforts within three to five minutes is critical. Studies indicate AEDs and Risk Managementthat the chances of surviving an incident of commotio cordis are enhanced if a shock from an automated external defibrillator (AED) can be delivered promptly. Most ballparks don’t have AEDs, and those that do must have well-practiced procedures in place for the rapid use of the device. Otherwise, all is for naught.

Also, the high-profile lawsuit in New Jersey of a pitcher being struck by a batted ball that came off of an alleged “hot bat” involved commotio cordis resulting in a permanent disability to the pitcher. The metal bat manufacturer and others were sued. What is interesting to note is that commotio cordis usually occurs only when a projectile travels at a relatively slow speed, usually between 20 and 50 mph. In this case, the basis for the lawsuit was that the ball speed was too fast as a result of the alleged “hot bat.”

Protecting Against Commotio Cordis

Researchers have been looking for solutions, typically in the form of chest protectors. But statistics show that somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of commotio cordis victims collapsed while wearing chest protection of some sort. Obviously, this means that the protection athletes were given wasn’t good enough.

Educating coaches, players and parents about the importance of preventing precordial blows is critical. For example, baseball and softball players should be taught to step aside or to turn and deflect balls using the shoulder, not the chest wall.

Commotio cordis is not related to an underlying heart condition. Therefore, susceptibility cannot be predetermined by a medical screening.

Spectators, players, and staff need to be able to recognize the signs of commotio cordis and take immediate action if a player is struck in the chest and collapses.

New NOCSAE Standards in Protection

In July 2018, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) set the world’s first performance standard for chest protection from commotio cordis. NOCSAE developed separate versions for baseball and lacrosse. Governing bodies of the various sports will decide whether or not they include compliance with these NOCSAE standards in their rules of play and when that goes into effect.

The Science Behind the New Standards

Together with the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, NOCSAE funded more than $1.1 million in Commotio cordis standards for chest protectorsresearch that pinpointed the cause of commotio cordis, including the critical moment of occurrence. To test impacts to the chest and heart, research engineers then developed a mechanical chest that mimics the human response of the human. All this led to NOCSAE creating the first commotio cordis-specific chest protection standard. NOCSAE looks to reduce the risk of death significantly from commotio cordis for athletes using equipment certified to this new standard.

Chest Protector Certifications By SEI

The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) issued the first certifications for chest protectors that meet NOCSAE’s new standard. The NOCSAE criteria support a test method that produces reliable measurements to evaluate various types of chest protectors.

Chest protector manufacturers participating in SEI’s certification program must also have their facility and operations audited for quality assurance.  Additionally, all products labeled SEI and NOCSAE-certified must be recertified annually. Yes, all products have to be retested, and the manufacturing facility successfully meets all SEI quality-assurance requirements each year.  SEI serves as the world’s premier certification organization for safety and protective products.

High School Rule Change in Baseball For Catchers

The standard update for chest protectors resulted in a rule change by the Baseball Rules Committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Rule 1-5-3, effective January 1, 2020, requires catchers wear chest protectors that meet the NOCSAE standard as the time of manufacture. Knowing that catchers are wearing equipment certified by the latest safety standards provides players, coaches, parents and school administrators assurance that athletes have the best heart protection possible, said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services. Other youth baseball organizations will need to address whether or not they will follow the lead of NFHS.

No Guarantees of Protection and Opponents of New Standard

It’s important to note that neither NOCSAE nor SEI offer any guarantees of protection from the certified chest protectors. They clearly state that no thoracic or chest protector can prevent all cardiac injuries, and that catastrophic injury and death may occur to a wearer of a NOCSAE and SEI-certified protector.

Opponents of the new standard point out that neither NOCSAE, SEI, nor any manufacturer can say affirmatively that their product does prevent commotio cordis. Also, many question if the additional expense of compliance is worth protecting the very low number of athletes impacted by this rare condition, especially since there are no guarantees. Others wonder if the new chest protectors may cause unintended consequences such as adding an additional heat layer that may contribute to heat illness.

If you found this blog on commotio cordis to be beneficial, please check out our other sports risk management content, and other risk management blog posts.

Commotio cordis

High School Coach and Wife Suffer Fatal Electrical Injury

Danger where and when you least expect it.

We read about a lot of tragedies occurring in our schools these days. Terrorism, gun violence, gang activity and more leave students, parents, faculty and staff bewildered and grieving.

Unfortunately, it was an act of kindness that led to two tragic deaths and left a community in grief.

Liberty County High School’s baseball coach and his wife were electrocuted as they attempted to install a new scoreboard.  Worse, their 14-year-old-son was also injured in the mishap. They were replacing the original baseball field scoreboard, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Michael in October, 2018.

The coach was lifting the equipment off a trailer using a boom lift, according to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department. The boom made contact with overhead power lines, causing the coach to be electrocuted. His wife and son both attempted to assist him, which resulted in her death. The son is expected to recover from his injuries.

This tragic accident reinforces the extreme caution that is required while working close to overhead power lines. Contact with the power line is not necessary as electricity can arch through the air up to 10 feet to ladders or tools under some circumstances.

Improper Sports Injury Care is a Leading Cause of Sports Lawsuits

Risk management and education are key to lowering the risk of sports injuries

If there’s one sure thing you can count on in sports, it’s that athletes get injured. Athletes of all ages and sizes participating in any sport from archery to wrestling risk being injured. Injuries can occur during warm-up, practice, and play. They even occur on the sidelines, in locker rooms and on the bus heading to a tournament.

However, many potential injuries can be prevented through best risk management practices. And when injuries do occur, it’s important that the proper steps are immediately taken.  Too many injury-related insurance claims and lawsuits arise out of improper attention to injuries. Sports administrators, coaches and trainers who implement the following guidelines greatly reduced their risk of liability.

Pre-injury planning

Maintain and post an emergency phone list that includes:

  • EMS, Police and Fire: 911
  • Water EmergencyEmergency contact form
  • Gas Emergency
  • Electricity Emergency
  • Site Map: include a detailed map of all fields, parking areas, buildings, and streets. Include symbols for emergency access points for EMS, first aid stations, AED’s, fire extinguishers, and utility disconnect or shut off points. List the exact name and address of the facility and the names of the closest roads and intersections. Keep this list with the first aid kits.

First Aid Kit:  Keep a first aid kit available at all practice and game locations.  Each coach should always keep a fully-stocked first aid kit in his or her vehicle.  Ensure access to ice or cold packs at all practice and game locations.

First Aid and CPR Training: Each coach and manager should provide documentation of their successful completion of a Red Cross-certified first aid and CPR training course within the past three years. (Note: First aid training and CPR may be a standard according to some authorities. However,  there is not widespread compliance within most non-scholastic, volunteer-run youth sports programs. Do not list this provision unless the organization is in full compliance.)

Emergency Information and Medical Consent Forms:  Keep either a hard copy or electronic copy available at all times in the event emergency treatment is required.

Pre-participation Screening

Some sports governing and sanctioning bodies require submission of an approved pre participation medical clearance form. Others may require an actual sports physical. The difference is that a medical clearance form can be signed by a healthcare professional based on a recent physical whereas a sports physical requires a new evaluation. There are various legal definitions of “approved healthcare professional” among the 50 states,  but generally this term includes a medical doctor (MD), osteopathic doctor (DO), physician’s assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP) or athletic trainer (AT). Non-contact sports generally don’t require preseason physicals and medical clearance forms. Note that it is not the standard in all sports to require either a pre participation medical clearance or a pre season physical.

Flexibility Conditioning, and Strength

Warming up raises the body temperature, which prepares muscles for exercise. Participants also need to stretch after the warm up.  Coaches and trainers should require engagement in standard flexibility and stretching exercises by all participants prior to practices and games.

Conditioning exercises increase physical fitness and athletic skill. Sport-specific strength training programs are fundamental to an athlete’s development and success. Instruction on and implementing reasonable and age-appropriate conditioning and strength training programs are key to injury prevention. However, strength training with weights is normally not encouraged for athletes aged 12 and younger.

Emergency Weather Plan

In the event of lightning, follow the 30/30 lighting rule. Suspend all outdoor play with appropriate Lightning 30-30 ruleevacuation whenever the time between lightning strike-to-thunder clap is under 30 seconds. Do not resume play until thunder ceases for 30 consecutive minutes. If no fully-enclosed buildings are on-site, evacuate players to vehicles.  Please see our “Lightning Safety” article for more detailed information on this subject.

Tornado warnings require immediate suspension of all outdoor play with appropriate evacuation to appropriate shelter. Underground shelters such as storm cellars and basements offer the best protection from a tornado. However, other shelter options to consider are:

  • A small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible of a sturdy building. Baseball dugouts, tents, and sheds are not appropriate shelters.
  • Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead.
  • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums, which have flat, wide-span roofs that can be ripped off in high winds.

Avoiding Heat Illness:

Educate all staff and players on pre-activity hydration and the prevention of heat illness. We encourage use of our article “Heat Illness: Avoidance and Prevention” to satisfy this requirement.

Be prepared to postpone or reschedule practices or games to avoid peak temperatures. Ensure that water and/or sports drinks are readily available. Schedule mandatory fluid breaks during practice and games. Modify the duration, intensity, and equipment usage during practices as necessary. Likewise, modify the game rules to allow unlimited substitutions.

Make use of the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which is the new standard for decision making. Keep a WGBT meter on site or use the Weather FX app, available on iTunes and Google Play.

Create and always follow an emergency action plan for participants who do become ill from heat. Include plans for EMS access to the venue. When a player presents symptoms of heat stroke, call immediately EMS and start cold water immersion while waiting for their arrival. A cold water immersion tub should be available on location. It does not need to be expensive as a Rubbermaid container or plastic kiddie pool will work.

Concussions/Brain Injury

We highly recommend the sports organization adopt and implement our Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program as part it overall risk management program.

Post Injury Treatment

  • First Aid: No staff member administering first-aid should exceed the scope of his or her training. Stabilizing and preventing the injury from worsening is the purpose of first aid. After achieving stabilization, allow medical professionals provide all further treatment. Provide EMS with participant’s Emergency Information and Medical Consent Form.
  • Medical Emergency: Call 911 if immediate attention is necessary. Refer to the site map when speaking to EMS to provide clear instructions about the location of the facility.
  • Parent Notification: Notify parents/guardians immediately when a treatable injury occurs.
  • Notification of Risk Management Officer: Notify your RMO who initiates documentation of the injury.
  • Return to Play: Require players treated by a medical professional to provide a written return-to-play clearance form from one of the medical professionals listed in the Pre-participation Screening paragraph above. However, note that some states and governing bodies will only allow MDs and DOs to sign such a form after a concussion. Do not put pressure on players to return too early. Honor the instructions of healthcare professional. 
  • Concussions: Follow the removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocols that can be found in our Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program.

How to Easily Organize Sports Risk Management Documents in the Cloud

Be Prepared to Produce Critical Documents for Litigation

Risk management requirements of federal, state, case law, governing bodies, and insurance carriers

Amateur sports organizations face ever-increasing legal risks arising out of injury to participants, spectators, and other third parties. Federal law, state law, case law, governing bodies, and insurance carriers require that amateur sports organizations adopt and implement a variety of risk management forms and programs to protect participants and spectators against injury risk and sports organizations against legal risk.

Organizing and managing these documents may seem overwhelming for a sports organization, but we provide helpful tips on how to simplify this process.

Critical forms that must be retained for retrieval

Sports organization must be able to document implementation, execution of agreements, delivery of training, etc.

Having these risk management programs in place is just the start. Sports organizations must also be able to prove their programs were adopted by formal board action, implemented as official policy on an annual basis, and that many of these documents were acknowledged with a signature. Otherwise, critical documents may not be available to enter into evidence in the event of a lawsuit or governmental administrative action.

Paper or electronic storage? Your cloud system or a vendors cloud system?

This documentation can be retained in paper and/or digital format. Sometimes these are individual documents. But sometimes documents are collected online through automated registration software used by the sports organization or vendors providing services to sports organizations. In the latter case, the only evidence is often a registry page or dashboard that shows a list of persons who clicked on “I agree” or completed training. Sports organizations can’t rely on these automation vendors to store critical information over the long term. This is because they are frequently start-up companies with high failure rates.

Sports organizations must retain documents for at least 16 years in many cases

For legal purposes, retention of these documents by sports organization should be at least 16 years, in most cases. The reason is that a 4-year-old child can wait until the age of majority plus an additional two years for the statute of limitations to run out. The age of majority is typically 18, and the statute of limitations may be up to 2 years. As a result, the child may have a span of 16 years in which to file a lawsuit for past injuries.

This 16-year time span presents a problem due to the frequent turnover of volunteers in local organizations. Who wants to store paper records for 16 years? A better solution is cloud-based storage where the login information is passed on with each new turnover in staff.

Staff acknowledgment of training and compliance

Critical risk management documents, such as those related to abuse, brain injury/concussion, and general risk management awareness training, require acknowledgment of receipt, review, and compliance with either a wet or electronic signature.

Below is a sample staff acknowledgment that can be built into your online registration:

As part of your registration as a staff member, you are required to receive, review, and agree to follow a number of risk management programs. Below you can find links to our policies and educational awareness training on Child Abuse Risk Management, Brain Injury Risk Management, and General Risk Management Awareness Training. Please download and save these programs, familiarize yourself with the information, and adopt the policies outlined in the documents. In addition to these links, you can find all of these resources (and more) on our website under the risk management tab.

  • Child Abuse: Click here (embed link) to access our Child Abuse Risk Management Plan, which includes our policies and educational training:  I will download, carefully review, and agree to follow the policies contained in this document:  I agree ______
  • Concussion/Brain Injury: Click here (embed link) to access our Brain Injury / Concussion Risk Management Plan, which includes our policies and educational training.  I will download, carefully review, and agree to follow the policies contained in this document:  I agree ______
  • General Risk Management Awareness Training: Click here (embed link) to access our General Risk Management Awareness Training Plan, which includes our policies and educational training.  I will download, carefully review, and agree to follow the policies contained in this document:  I agree ______

Below is a sample acknowledgment that can be inserted at the bottom of a document for collection of a wet signature and returned to the sports organization:

I agree that I have carefully reviewed this document and will comply with these guidelines.

Print Name:

Signature:

Date:

Cloud storage solutions for document retention

Problems with relying on website and online registration vendor storage systems

Vendors that provide websites and online registration services often offer document storage solutions for the various forms being collected. But what would happen to your forms if the vendor were to be purchased by a competitor or went out of business?  What if you decide to switch to a new website vendor? Storing files in the cloudDo you have a contractual guarantee that allows you to  download your stored forms and move them to a new platform? What file management capabilities does their software offer in terms of setting up folders and sub-folders, methods of uploading documents, and optical character recognition (OCR) search capability? Can their storage limits be easily exceeded?

When storing critical documents with a third-party vendor, we recommend that you take screenshots of dashboards for storage in your own systems. For example, take a screenshot of a dashboard of parents who clicked on “I agree” to the waiver/release agreement.

Off-the-shelf cloud storage and document management: Evernote and OneNote

Applications such as Evernote and OneNote are powerful and offer the following advantages:

  • They are not as likely to go out of business. In the event of a purchase by a competitor or going out of business, the files can be easily downloaded to another program.
  • Both free and low-cost paid versions available.
  • Account login information transferable from one league administrator to the next as they turn over.
  • Accessible on a desktop PC, smartphone or tablet.
  • The ability to set up by sports registration season with a folder and sub-folder structure for the intelligent organization of documents.
  • Easy filing into the appropriate folder/sub-folder via scan, web clipping, or forwarded via email.
  • Simple search and retrieval of documents with OCR.
  • Documents can be forwarded to another party via email.
  • Automatically generated backups.

Below is a sample folder/sub-folder structure for use in Evernote or OneNote:

Fall 2019 Baseball Season

Waiver/Release (individual forms or printed out of dashboard from online registration vendor.)

 Emergency Information / Consent (but HIPAA compliance problem)

 Image Release

 Field/Facility License/Permit Agreement

 Certificates of Insurance – Vendors

 Certificates of Insurance – Visiting Teams

 Sanctioning Agreement

 Criminal Background Check Info (Privacy concerns)

Child Abuse Training acknowledgment

Concussion Training acknowledgment

Risk Management Awareness Training acknowledgment

Preseason Meeting Training Content and Attendance List

Certificate of CDC Concussion Training

NAYS Certificate for Coach Training (individual forms or print out of dashboard from online vendor.

Screenshots of third-party vendor dashboards containing critical information

Accident Insurance Claims

General Liability Claims

Participant Injury Documentation

 

One potential problem with Evernote and OneNote is that they are not HIPAA compliant. That means that you can’t store certain documents covered by HIPAA, such as emergency information / medical consent forms. Evernote does not have a solution for this at this time, but OneNote does, if you jump through a few hoops and are willing to pay a little. But if you prefer Evernote, you can find an alternate solution for the HIPAA documents.

And because of the sensitive nature of some documents and the ease of access over multiple platforms with Evernote and OneNote, it is imperative that access is limited to those within the sports on a need-to-know basis. It is possible within Evernote and OneNote to restrict access on some folders to certain administrative staff and allow access on other folders to a larger group of administrators. Creating sufficiently secure passwords is also paramount.

Time to get started with cloud-based document retention

We hope this information is useful and helps you visualize how you can store your critical risk management documents in the cloud. You never know when an unfortunate incident may require a legal defense for your organization, administrators, and staff. Please visit our risk management resources page for our best-in-industry risk management forms, articles, and ready-to-implement risk management programs.

Leading Causes of Sports Lawsuits: Improper Supervision & Instruction

Supervision: It’s more than just keeping an eye on things.

The need for amateur sports administrators to understand their legal responsibilities with regard to supervision and instruction can’t be stressed enough. In the arena of amateur sports, lack of supervision is the most common cause of action in lawsuits. Injuries resulting in these types of lawsuits are typically avoidable if proper supervision occurs. Below are the three most important reasons to stress supervision as a way to avoid legal liability.

  1. Injured people suffer and miss time away from playing the game, school, or work.
  2. If a serious injury occurs, negative media attention can have a significant impact on the success of your sports program.
  3. The loss record of your insurance program must be protected against serious losses to prevent future rate increases.

Supervision in the context of amateur sports is defined as overseeing the activities of the sports program. This includes recognizing potential hazards, implementing risk management measures, and monitoring for compliance. For our purposes, we break supervision down into two categories: general supervision and specific supervision.

General Supervision

The responsibility of general supervision falls on your risk management officer and other administrators (such as officers and board members). It is their duty to oversee the big picture of your risk management Instruction in amateur sportsprogram. They do this by instructing, training, and monitoring staff members on how to carry out their own duties of supervision.

Meeting the standard of care

The basic steps required to be taken under general supervision include appointing a risk management officer and adopting a written risk management plan. We offer templates on our risk management page to help you accomplish this task. Also important is selecting suitable staff and monitoring staff performance of their duties. This means screening staff with applications and background checks. Staff training or certification is key. We recommend seeking out a credible organization such the National Alliance for Youth Sports for such training. An integral part of any risk management plan is being able to document everything you’re doing. This certainly holds true for your policies and procedures regarding supervision.

Specific Supervision

Administrators should consider three basic questions regarding supervision.

  • What is the player to coach/trainer ratio?
  • In which area(s) are coaches/trainers trained and certified, if any?
  • Are policies in place regarding supervision, and if so is there accountability regarding current policy?

The liability risk of any sports program can be reduced greatly if the following guidelines regarding supervision are followed:

Rowdiness: Horseplay and roughhousing of participants and those on the sidelines ends in a great number of senseless and avoidable injuries in youth sports. Injuries can range from a player falling/jumping off bleachers to a teen athlete having an accident in the parking lot while showing off. Nonetheless, it is the coach’s responsibility to properly supervise players and keep them safe. Staff should be aware of this, recognize these activities, and put a stop to them using appropriate means. The first step in doing so is having an adequate number of coaches and staff members present and alert. Getting the buy-in from parents is also key to keeping such behavior to a minimum.

Supervisor-to-Participant Ratio: The ability to adequately observe, instruct, supervise and correct only occurs when an appropriate number of staff supervisors are present at an activity. Arrange ahead of time for sufficient team supervision during practices, games and extracurricular activities.

Supervisor Location: The staff supervisor should always be in close proximity to an activity. This means he or she should be able to personally observe, instruct, supervise and correct. This applies to sports activities and non-sports extracurricular activities, i.e. team outings, backyard cookouts, etc. One example of this type of situation is the drowning of a player who attended a team picnic. Another is children causing damage while climbing on a water fountain at an awards banquet.

Participants Size, Age, and Skill: Never mix participants of various sizes, ages, and skill levels. All too often we’ve seen injuries result when a younger team scrimmages an older team outside of age range. The sports organization should be restricting age range categories and prohibiting any play against outside competition if participants fall outside of these categories. Staff members of individual teams should not match players of different skill levels or sizes in dangerous drills. And staff should, of course, never personally injure participants during practice instruction.

Instruction

Instruction goes hand-in-hand with supervision because the instructor is a supervisor. Many sports organization require formal training for their coaches through organizations such as the National Alliance For Youth Sports. The training covers general topics that are common to all coaches such as the psychological needs of youth and how to respond to injuries as well as a sport specific segment. Such training can also be required by state legislative law and by municipalities as a pre condition of being able to use the fields. Such formal programs may satisfy the legal requirement for instruction training. Again, following the guidelines below greatly reduces the risk of liability.

Sport-specific techniques

Administrators should require coaches to follow best-accepted practices for teaching sport-related techniques. Coaches should receive continuing education on the latest techniques on how to run a practice and how to teach technical skills.

Put particular emphasis on the more hazardous areas of the specific sport. For example, the position of the player’s head during a tackle is a fundamental area of instruction. Likewise, in baseball/softball, it’s critical that athletes are taught the proper method for avoiding a wild pitch or how to slide  into a base.

Review of Safety Rules and Procedures

The governing/sanctioning body or sports organization should require a pre-season a review by administrators and staff of any rule changes. Likewise, a review of rules and policies with players should take place before every season and a review of specific rules prior to every practice and game.

Observations

The vast majority of lawsuits filed against clients of Sadler sports and recreation insurance allege lack of supervision and instruction. The alleged negligence is both at the administrator level due to lack of planning/oversight and the staff level as well. In particular, we have seen a number of serious injuries and resulting lawsuits arise from mixing participants of different sizes, ages, and skill levels.

Latest on Youth Concussions from American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released an update on Sport-Related Concussions in Children and Adolescents. This 24-page report highlights the major developments in new concussion knowledge and treatment since the first report, which was published in 2010.

To follow are the points that I find to be of particular interest. Some the conclusions and actionable recommendations may be contrary to what is being disseminated by various bloggers and vendors of products related to concussions. But always remember that true science can be a very slow process and future studies may ultimately prove contrary results. If these topics are of interest, you should read the entire article for more information.

Concussions: Mechanical vs Chemical/Cellular Injury

There is no universally-accepted definition of a concussion and there are a wide range of symptoms which require individual management.

After a biomechanical injury to the brain due to either direct impact or whiplash effect, a cascade of chemical changes occur resulting in injury on a cellular level. Some of the medical terms for these are potassium efflux from neurons, increase in extracellular glutamate, upregulation of sodium-potassium ion pumps, depletion of intracellular injury reserves, and increased use of adenosine triphosphate and hyperglycolysis. All of these biochemical reactions result in decreased blood flow and increased energy demand which leads to an energy crisis.

In other words, concussions are a lot more complicated than just a bump to the head, making future research and studies necessary.

Rest After Concussions

After a concussion, an immediate reduction in physical and mental activity can be beneficial to recovery. However, prolonged restrictions of physical activities and delayed return to school can have negative effects on recovery and symptoms. A graduated return-to-play protocol should be followed under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Reporting of Concussions Over the Past Decade

Studies indicate that the reporting of youth concussions has increased dramatically over the last decade with increases ranging from 57% to 200%. This is likely caused by the increased overall awareness of coaches, participants, and parents due to media exposure and education initiatives.

Concussions in Girls vs Boys

Female athletes are more likely to report symptoms to an authority figure than male athletes, despite Concussions in Girls soccerboth having the same knowledge.

Studies indicate that concussion rates from highest to lowest for boys are as follows: American tackle football, lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling. For girls: soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and basketball.

Girls have higher concussion rates than boys in soccer and basketball.

The reasons that girls seem to be more susceptible are not entirely clear, but it has been suggested that it is due to weaker neck musculature and estrogen.

In school sports, for boys and girls combined, the following have the highest concussion rates: middle school tackle football, girls soccer, cheerleading, and girls basketball.

A study of youth tackle football for ages 8 to 12 indicates that the concussion rates are higher than in high school athletes and that 11 to 12 year olds have a nearly 2.5 increased risk as compared to 8 to 10 year olds.

Concussion incidence is higher in competition than in practice for males and females across nearly all sports.

Most Frequent Signs and Symptoms

Headache 86% to 96%
Dizziness 65% to 75%
Difficulty Concentrating 48% to 61%
Confusion 40% to 46%

Problems to Watch Out For in Post-concussion Diagnostic Tests

The most frequent sideline test used by athletic trainers is the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) and is available in following forms: Child SCAT 5 (ages 5 to 12) and SCAT 5 (ages 13+). These tests, which only take about 10 minutes to perform, are being constantly updated. They consist of observable signs of concussion, symptoms assessment, memory questions, neurological assessment, and balance assessment.

Symptoms can mimic pre-existing problems such as migraine, headache disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, mental health conditions, and sleep disorders. As a result, the examiner should be informed of any such condition.

Some sideline diagnostic assessment tools and checklists are not appropriate for children ages 5 to 12. Younger athletes perform worse on questions such as naming months or numbers in reverse. Concussions in youth sportsVariations are available for younger children such as the Child SCAT 5..

Tests that measure visual deficits, such as the King-Devick Test, show promise but not enough evidence from studies yet to recommend their inclusion in the SCAT.

While healthcare professionals find sideline assessment tests to be helpful, they are not to be used in isolation in diagnosing a concussion. Not enough studies exist at this time to recommend widespread use in children. Also, the value of sideline tests is minimized without a baseline test for comparison. See HitCheck for an example of an affordable sideline assessment app.

Are CAT Scans and MRIs Necessary? Which One Is Superior?

CAT scans and MRIs are critical when a severe intracranial injury or structural lesion (skull fracture or hemorrhage) is suspected, but they are not effective in diagnosing a concussion. Despite this, the use of neuroimaging increased 36% between 2006 and 2011.

Recent literature indicates that it is highly unlikely that significant intracranial hemorrhaging occurs after six hours without a deterioration in the level of consciousness. As a result, prescribing a CT without any deterioration of consciousness after six hours is unlikely to be helpful.

When neuroimaging is necessary, CT’s are more cost effective and can usually be arranged more quickly. However, children’s exposure to radiation may increase the risk of certain cancers over the long term. After the emergency period is over, MRIs are superior to CTs in detection of cerebral contusion, petechial hemorrhage, and white-matter injury.

Baseline Neurocognitive Testing

Studies conducted independently by developers of paper and online testing platforms have questioned the reliability of baseline tests from year to year. It is important for the reviewer who compares baseline to post- injury tests to understand modifiers that could alter results, such as depression, lack of sleep, failure to take ADHD medication, and athletes with musculoskeletal injuries.

The best environment for baseline and post-injury testing is a quiet, distraction-free environment, which can be very difficult to achieve for most schools and organizations.

Concerns about athlete “sandbagging” and intentionally under-performing on baseline tests are exaggerated as this can be detected.

Neurocognitive tests should not be used as the sole determining factor in return-to-play decisions.

Retirement After Multiple Concussions

The decision to retire an athlete after multiple concussions should not be tied to any specific number of concussions.

An athlete who has suffered multiple concussions should be referred to a specialist with expertise in this area for guidance.

Prevention of Concussions: What Can Be Proven By Studies

  • Mouth guards: After an initial 1954 study suggesting a connection between mouth guards and reduction of concussions, several larger studies refuted this assertion. Evidence of an advantage of custom mouth guards over non-custom remains inconclusive.
  • Helmets: Helmets were designed to reduce severe injuries such as skull fractures, subdural Football helmets and concussionshematomas, and brainstem contusion or hemorrhage. The goal of reduction of concussions has not proven to be productive. Several studies show no difference between several brands and models of helmets, both new and refurbished, in terms of severity of symptoms, frequency, and recovery time. Helmet improvements are not likely to ever be the solution to the concussion problem.
  • Aftermarket Helmet Attachments: No study has ever shown that aftermarket helmet attachments such as pads, shock absorbers, and sensors prevent or reduce the severity of concussions. The use of sensors to clinically diagnose or assess concussions cannot be supported at this time and do not have a role in decision making. See our article “Add-on Helmet Products.”
  • Other Headgear: Soccer headgear has not proven beneficial in the reduction of head-to-head or head-to-ball impact. Such headgear may actually increase the incidence of injury by encouraging more aggressive play.
  • Education: Education and awareness of concussions has proven effective in diagnosing, treating, and making return-to-play decisions. This finding is consistent with Sadler Sports Insurance injury data on concussion rates in youth baseball and football prior to 2012 and after 2012.
  • Biomarkers: Biomarkers have been investigated in playing a role in concussion evaluation. These include predisposition factors, delayed recovery, and increased catastrophic risk. These investigations are preliminary and none have advanced to use in a clinical setting.
  • Supplements: Numerous supplements have been investigated as to playing a role in preventing or in speeding up the recovery time from concussions. There are currently no studies in humans to support a benefit from supplements.
  • Neck Strengthening: Strengthening the cervical muscles and activating those muscles prior to impact has been found to reduce forces from head impact. Poor neck strength has been shown to correlate with the incidence of concussions. One study showed that each additional pound of neck strength resulted in a 5% reduction in concussions.
  • Rule Changes: Rule changes and enforcement of rules by officials may help to reduce the likelihood of concussions. Recent initiatives in youth sports look promising. These include elimination of checking in ice hockey and heading soccer in younger age groups, and reducing contact in football practice.

I hope you enjoyed my summary of this very informative article. At Sadler Sport Insurance, we have an excellent risk management library on the topic of concussion and brain injury risk management that you should check out.


 

Risks of Tents, Canopies and Umbrellas at Events

Collapsing and fly-away shelters can cause bodily injury and property damage

Tents, canopies and umbrellas are popular shelters and sun shades at sidewalk sales, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, cookouts and sporting events. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see such equipment inadequately secured. The risk of injuries is great, and property damage can also result when these shelter frames buckle and collapse or they go flying in a gusty wind.

In July 2018, umbrellas sent flying by wind gusts impaled people at Maryland and New Jersey beaches. A number of our sports insurance clients experienced similar mishaps with canopies that blew into spectators and resulted in significant injuries.  

As a matter of fact, one of them recently shared what happened at their youth soccer event:

Opening ceremonies were taking place at the local YMCA on a clear and cloudless morning. Suddenly,  a tornado-like wind burst on the scene. An unstaked canopy went rolling in the air, the legs hitting both a small boy and a woman in their heads. The woman required major surgery on her crushed forehead and she sued the YMCA. The YMCA in turn sued our client because he supplied the canopy. The YMCA did not have secondary insurance covering injured players and participants. Following this tragic event, this soccer league took no more chances. It banned canopies and tents at their games and events, and only allowed hand-held umbrellas.

Best risk management practices for canopies, awnings, tents and umbrellas

Make sure that the people erecting and taking down canopies are not distracted. A poorly-secured canopy is as dangerous as an unsecured canopy.  

Canopy weights should be attached to canopies at all times. Weights should be secured in such a way as to not create a separate safety hazard:

  •      Anchoring weights should not cause a tripping hazard
  •      Ensure weights are attached securely and tethering lines clearly visible
  •      Weights should not have sharp edges that could cut people passing by
  •      Anchor the weights should be on the ground; never hang them overhead

Sufficient weight is at least 24 lbs. per leg. One canopy manufacturer recommends a minimum of 40 lbs. on each corner of a 10’x10’ tent; double that on a 10’x20’ tent. Umbrellas should be anchored by a 50 lb. weight.

Even properly-secured canopies can be precarious in inclement weather. Determine if weather dictates that canopies should be taken down during an event. If so, direct bystanders to stay clear in order to prevent injuries.

Proper canopy anchors

  • Fill 2.5 gallon buckets with cement and tie one to each canopy corner  with a rope or bungee. Do  not place the buckets on the feet of the canopy.
  • Purchase vertical sandbag weights specially designed to be strapped to the canopy legs. Make sure weights are a minimum 24 lbs. each.
  • Fill PVC pipes capped on one end with cement. Attach one to each canopy pole securely.

Improper canopy anchors

  • A gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. Therefore jugs of water are not heavy enough to anchor a canopy in a gust of wind.
  • Tents, canopies or umbrellas tethered to tables, coolers or vehicles make for tripping hazards and are not sufficiently weighed down.
  • Sandbags that don’t sit upright and can’t be securely tied to the tent or canopy should not be used.
  • Tent stakes are tripping hazards and typically do not provide enough anchor in strong wind gusts.
  • Cinder blocks are hard, easy to trip over, and are all too often the cause of broken toes and shins.

Umbrellas

Obviously, it’s best not to erect an umbrella or canopy on windy days. However, if you must, choose one of high quality.  An umbrella made of cheap plastic and a flimsy aluminum frame will not hold up in high winds. Always anchor canopies and tents as directed above.  

Beach umbrellas should always be tilted into the wind and anchored securely.  See the video below for information use of umbrella anchors. You can also purchase sand weights that are made especially for anchoring umbrellas.

We offer other important risk management articles to help lower the risk of liability at markets, festivals and out door events. We also encourage you to call us at (800) 622-7370 if you have questions or to receive a quick quote.


Sources:

Overhydration in Sports Can Have Deadly Consequences

Players must adequately hydrate, but overdoing it can be life threatening

College and high school football teams across the country are currently conditioning and practicing for the upcoming football season. And they’re doing it in the hottest weeks of the summer.

In 2017, University of Texas coach, Tom Herman,  assessed the hydration level of players, and their dedication to the team, based on the color of their urine. The color color-coded chart he developed labeled players with deep-yellow urine “selfish teammates.” Orange to brown-colored urine signified players as “bad guys.”

While I don’t advocate such shaming, the color chart is useful as a risk managementtool. We refer to the importance of hydration and a urine color chart referred to in our article “Guide To Preventing Heat Stroke Death In Youth Tackle Football.”

But apparently fanatical adherence by some has led to the dangerous practice of overhydration. This is also known as exercise-associated hyponatremia. While it’s important that players be mindful of staying hydrated, “hydration shaming” has filtered into high school sports.

Since 2014, two high school football players died during August football practice from overhydration. One died after drinking two gallons of water and two gallons of Gatorade following practice. Ironically, there is no documentation of any football player dying from dehydration. However, since 2014, seven succumbed fatally to heatstroke.

A delicate balance

Overhydration results from drinking too much water or sports drinks, which dilutes the level of salt in the blood. The body fills with more fluids than it can expel through perspiration or urination.  The result is a swelling of all the cells in the body.

Sadly, the symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to those of dehydration. Overhydration can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and lead to coma and seizures. In addition to extreme thirst, dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness and confusion.

Scientists know that the body self-regulates its water balance. All land mammals require water and have a thirst trigger hardwired into the brain that protects the balance between water and salt. When the trigger is ignored, dehydration occurs. Oversaturation of our thirst results in hyponatremia.

Proper hydration

Players must drink regularly throughout all physical activities, no matter the temperature. An athlete shouldn’t only rely on his or her sense of thirst to sufficiently maintain proper hydration.

  • Athletes should have a variety of fluids freely available and be free to drink whenever they feel thirsty.
  • Encourage athletes to drink 16 ozs. of fluid two hours before physical activity and to drink before, during and after practices and games.

The weather, the sport being played and the size of the athlete all determine how much one needs to drink. Tom Herman’s hydration chart (without the commentary) or similar,  is a good basic tool for assessing your athlete’s level of hydration.


Source: Tamara Hew-Butler. “Young athletes should stay hydrated, but too much water can be deadly.” cnn.com. 7 August 2018.