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Iowa youth sports still on the fields as temperatures rise

While the national Little League organization does not provide official guidelines on heat cancellations, teams say safety is their top priority.

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from May 11

Summer is in full swing, and with it comes the beginning of Little League season.

However, as heat waves hit the Des Moines metro, parents are wondering how to keep kids safe from the sun while on the diamond. 

Children are unable to withstand extreme heat the way adults can. Heat extremes may lead to heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke in children.

Potential signs of heat illness include weakness, dizziness, slow pulse and clammy skin. 

While Little League Baseball and Softball do have a Heat Illness Prevention Protection Policy, there are no official guidelines for when teams should cancel games due to high temperatures. 

"There have been state Little League games held in 108-degree heat before. However, nationally, if the heat index is above 115 is usually when it becomes ‘too hot’ for baseball," Heather Byers, treasurer and information officer for Southeast Polk and Pleasant Hill Little Leagues, said in an email to Local 5. 

Byers emphasized in the email that players’ safety is the top priority. Coaches are allowed to shorten games as needed so kids aren’t outside as long. 

During games, kids are encouraged to stay hydrated, use a wet or cooling towel while in the dugout and take breaks if necessary.  

“If at any point you feel like they need a break, don't hesitate to say something,” Byers said. “In some parks, the concession stands are air-conditioned, so you could have an overheated player stand in there or you could have them sit in an air-conditioned car for a few [minutes] if needed.”   

Other potential safeguards include providing sunshades in dugouts, utilizing sunscreen on exposed skin and setting up a sprinkler system nearby where players can cool off 

 As for what parents can do, Byers cautioned them to not let their children play outside all day before a game. 

“Don’t take them to Adventureland or to the park,” she wrote in the email. “Let them chill, relax and stay cool in the air conditioning so they are not already exhausted before the games.”  

If a child is experiencing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical help immediately.

Local 5 has reached out to several other metro Little League chapters, as well as the Little League Central Region, to see how they handle extreme heat, but have yet to hear back.

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