updated 8/14/2006 6:13:14 PM ET 2006-08-14T22:13:14

Safety tips for parents whose children participate in school sports, from sports medicine specialists and the National Athletic Trainers Association:

  • Every child and teenager needs an annual physical exam to be sure they're fit to play, even if the school doesn't require one.
  • Ask about the team's emergency plan for serious injuries. Are coaches or other team professionals trained in CPR? Who will provide first aid and call an ambulance? How will parents be notified?
  • For high school, ask if the school uses a certified athletic trainer, who is trained in the prevention, immediate care and rehabilitation of sports injuries. There are about 10,000 certified athletic trainers who work in secondary schools. If not, ask about the athletic staff's training and injury policies, including how they decide when an injured player can return to practice or play.
  • Be sure the school/team has clear rules about inclement weather, such as when to leave the field because of lightning and when to call off practice because of high heat and humidity. During hot weather, teams should take special care to keep players hydrated, and any player who doesn't feel well should stop activity immediately and be checked.
  • Ask how safety equipment is properly fitted and maintained.
  • Children should be supervised at all times while on the playing field.
  • Athletes should always warm up before practice or play, cool down and stretch afterward, and take regular rest and water breaks.
  • To avoid overuse injuries, players shouldn't participate in more than one sports team at one time.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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