Fox Focus on Health
Aug 5, 2009, 6:20 PM

Six U.S. student athletes died on the field in 2008 because of the heat -- four were in high school and two were in college.

Sports medicine specialists say, while death from heat is rare, getting sick from it isn't.

Coach Todd Greguson knows that he's got to keep his baseball players cool when the heat and humidity are high.

"Keep them hydrated," Greguson said. "Lots of fluids throughout the course of the game."

Sports medicine specialist Chad Eickoff says water is key to avoiding heat exhaustion or worse yet, heat stroke. And it's important to drink water long before players step on the field.

"The day before, the morning before practice begins," Eickoff said. "And make sure you're hydrating throughout the day"

During exercise, drink eight ounces every 20 minutes, especially for players who wear a lot of gear.

Football players are at particular risk. In addition to hydration, players should get acclimated to the heat slowly over a period of up to two weeks.

The symptoms of heat related illness to watch for include: leg cramps, stomach ache, headache, and dizziness. If this happens, get the player out of the heat and give him water. And if a player stops sweating, has clammy skin, or is disoriented, get him out of the heat, give him water and call 911.

Prevention is key. Be aware of what's happening with the weather and plan ahead so you're ready for the heat.

Heat can also affect your performance, especially if you don't have enough water. So be sure to be properly hydrated.