Green Bay Packers Linebacker A.J. Hawk Helps NFL and Gatorade "Beat the Heat"

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Green Bay Packers Linebacker A.J. Hawk Helps NFL and Gatorade
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and the National Football League are taking a swing back at heat-related illnesses.

In an effort to help keep athletes and active people safe from the effects of strenuous workouts in hot weather, Hawk and the NFL are continuing their participation with Gatorade's "Beat the Heat" campaign. 

The program, which the NFL paired with in 2010, aims to increase hydration awareness among those active in sports and training, along with anyone who simply lives an active life style.

"The 'Beat the Heat' program is just trying to educate parents and coaches on the right way to stay hydrated," Hawk said in an interview with B/R. "Whether it is Gatorade, water or whatever you can get, hydration is needed before, during and after any kind of activity or practice."

The NFL has been active in promoting hydration after one of their own, Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer, died of complications after suffering a heat stroke during Vikings training camp in 2001. While certainly a tragic accident, the NFL has steadily improved their procedures in hot conditions since Stringer's passing.

It's now common for teams to wear white or light shaded uniforms, team doctors are at every practice and water and Gatorade products are much more readily available.

The Korey Stringer Institute was also founded by Kelci Stringer, Korey's widow, and Douglas Casa, a heat-related illness expert, in an effort to extend heat awareness to as many people as possible. Another organization, the Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation, was established in memory of Kendrick Fincher, an Arkansas high school football player who also died of heat stroke in 1995.

Both organizations are in collaboration with the NFL and Gatorade to help educate people on the dangers of strenuous activity in warm weather and what you can do to safeguard yourself against heat-related illnesses.    

"Beat the Heat" also helps raise funds for both organizations. 

"It's good to bring about an awareness and educate people that it's not a joking matter," Hawk said. "It gets very serious and not only for professional athletes. It's for everyone. Even guys just playing flag football on the weekends need to stay hydrated."

Gatorade now distributes a heat safety kit, which is available for download at no cost at www.nfl.com/trainingcamp. The kit includes educational resources from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) and goes in depth to explain the "4 Downs" of heat safety—Prevent, Prepare, Proper Hydration and Plan.

Hawk said the Packers stress the "4 Downs" plan at their own training camp.

"Gatorade has a lot of good products now that deal with their before, during and after program. It's a good program. I know here with the Packers, we use all their products to stay hydrated."

Hawk and Gatorade stress any kind of hydration, but Gatorade has established a three-part product called the "G Series" to drink before (Gatorade Prime 01), during (Gatorade Thirst Quencher 02) and after (Gatorade Recovery 03). According to the GSSI, around 70 percent of high school-age athletes come to practice without the adequate hydration—something "Beat the Heat" is actively trying to reverse.   

For more information on heat illness prevention, please visit www.nflhealthandsafety.com, the NFL's resource on health and safety initiatives, www.kendrickfincher.org, http://ksi.unconn.edu or www.gatorade.com

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