Black men are twice as likely to die from heat-related illnesses than their White counterparts in the United States and participation in summer sports raises this risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC WONDER (Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research) database showed Black men die from hyperthermia at a crude rate of 20 percent between 1999 and 2016. From 1999 to 2010, more than 8,000 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States, according to an EPA report.
Exposure to excessive sun was the cause of death in 72 percent of the deaths, while the remaining cause of death was due to another contributing illness such as cardiovascular diseases.
Athletes, children and people older than 65 years are also vulnerable to death by heat exposure.
Shirley Evers-Manly, the chief nursing officer and director of patient services at Howard University Hospital, said the hospital’s trauma department recommended to coaches hosting summer camps to have “drills and the more impact drills later in the day when it’s not so hot or early in the day.”
Sheriff Adewumi, 21, a junior consultant at Deloitte, grew up in Baltimore where he played football at Western School of Technology.
”I know one boy came close to actually passing out but he stopped practicing before he got to that point,” Adewumi said. “Your coach should know, especially with the weather conditions, how hard to push these kids.”
Corey Taylor, 21, a student living in Northwest, said he witnessed a football teammate endure a heat stroke at a practice and described the scene as nonchalant.
”I’ve never seen that happen before, everyone’s reaction was just to get him water,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if that was the correct response, but that’s what we did. He woke up eventually.”
Taylor said water was not brought to practice that particular day, which was the reason for his teammate’s heat stroke.
“You play football in the heat, what are you gonna do?” he said.
Trainers were there to assist the teammate, escorting him to the locker room to check his vital signs. Taylor said he believes heat-related illnesses in Black men erupt because of the culture and attitudes of Black coaches and guardians.
”Like I said, you pass out and we all just kind of said ‘you’re hot, get some water and play football,’” Taylor said.
Any population that drinks sugary liquids, remain in heated areas or at high altitudes are prone to heat related illnesses according to Evers-Manly.
”African-American children are more likely to have a lot of sugary drinks and if they live in areas where they don’t have appropriate air conditioning … you’re going to see some impact there,” Evers-Manly said.
Evers-Manly stressed the importance of water intake versus sugary beverages, the latter which has more minerals prompting the body to release unwanted components and liquids through urination.