The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo, has partnered with the NFL, NBA, and MLS for the Gatorade “Beat the Heat” program. This educational campaign aims to raise awareness among athletes, parents and coaches on the importance of consuming liquids before, during and after athletic activity to help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.
“What athletes, parents and coaches need to know is that heat-related illnesses are largely preventable,” said Douglas Casa, Ph.D., chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), which is housed at the University of Connecticut. “The Beat the Heat program aims to raise awareness about this issue and provide educational resources to optimize the prevention, recognition and treatment of heat-related illness during the summer sports season.”
Research conducted by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) found that as many as 70 percent of high school football players could show up for practice inadequately hydrated. Further studies reveal that electrolyte consumption via food or beverages can help athletes stay hydrated for longer. Athletes should know that consuming food or beverages that contain electrolytes within their normal fueling regimen may help them stay safe in the heat. Scientific research shows that dehydration or poor hydration increases the risk for heat illness.
“The Beat the Heat program unites a number of outstanding organizations who share the goal of reducing heat-related injuries by engaging parents, coaches and players to educate athletes on the importance of sports fuel when playing sports during the hot summer months,” said John Shea, senior director, Gatorade sports marketing. “Our shared commitment is a great way to educate on how to prevent heat related tragedies nationwide.”
As a part of the Beat the Heat efforts, the Gatorade Heat Safety Kit, an educational resource for athletes, parents and coaches, will be available for free download on nfl.com/trainingcamp, and mlssoccer.com. The Gatorade Heat Safety Kit includes educational resources from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, as well as an explanation about the “4 Plays ” of Heat Safety – Prevent, Prepare, Proper Fueling, Plan – which athletes, parents and coaches should consider before engaging in practice or other strenuous athletic activity in hot weather.
The Korey Stringer Institute is named for the late NFL player Korey Stringer, who died of complications after an exertional heat stroke that occurred during football practice. The institute, created with the support of the NFL and Gatorade, is the result of a partnership between Casa, a noted exertional heat stroke expert, and Korey's widow, Kelci Stringer. The Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation was founded by Mike and Rhonda Fincher in memory of their son Kendrick, an Arkansas teenage football player who succumbed to complications from heat stroke during the summer of 1995.
“Heat-related illnesses need to be taken seriously at all levels,” said Pepper Burruss, head athletic trainer for the Green Bay Packers. “Dangers caused by overexposure to high temperature and humidity are preventable if coaches and players know the early warning signs and athletes stay cool and hydrated. Simple steps like allowing access to foods and drinks that contain electrolytes to help retain and regulate fluids before, during and after practice or a game is very important.”
For more information on heat illness prevention, please visit: http://ksi.uconn.edu/ , www.kendrickfincher.org .