By Dalton Carver
Staff reporter

With record high temperatures appearing all over the country, athletes have a higher priority than fighting for their places on the roster this year: Staying healthy and staying alive.

Heat stroke is a very real danger in these types of conditions. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury, the number of heat-related deaths spiked from 11 in 2004 to 18 in 2009. This year, over 25 lives have been claimed by the sweltering heat across the nation. Most, if not all, of these deaths could be prevented if the athletes and coaches involved would understand how to effectively handle heat stroke and dehydration. Most aren’t aware that heat stroke is 100% preventable when full body cooling is started within 10 minutes of collapse.

“The body needs time to adjust to new stresses and pressures, including weather,” said Juliann Plimpton, athletic trainer. “An athlete typically needs about a week to start adjusting to a new environment.

When an athlete exerts energy, water is lost through sweat. However, with temperatures as hot as they’ve been this year, an athlete may lose a lot more water than they realize.

“Hydration is one of the most important things an athlete can do to stay on top of the heat,” Plimpton said.

There has been debate on what hydrates athletes better: Gatorade or water? Water is the all around best choice, but Gatorade restores key electrolytes the body uses while in motion, making it the best choice for when athletes are in action.

If an athlete does find that they are feeling a bit dizzy or lightheaded during practice, they should find some shade and hydrate until the feeling is gone. The individual should not return to training until the symptoms have faded and they have been cleared by an athletic trainer.

Dalton Carver is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at dalton.carver@sckans.edu.