Humans, tropical creatures that we are, have a healthy respect for winter, Not naturally equipped to survive its wrath, we take shelter from winter's storms and tend to hibernate for much of its course. While the cold, dark season may be depressing for some and does induce its fair share of injuries, winter keeps us on our guard and, for the most part, out of trouble.
Summer, on the other hand, that carefree season of vacations, picnics and outdoor recreation, is welcomed by most humans and its dangers are too often ignored. But, contrary to what many believe, the summer heat causes far more deaths than does the winter chill. The elderly, stressed by excessive heat and too often housed in poorly ventilated apartments, are the primary victims; ironically, young, healthy athletes are the other group at risk. Driven on by macho coaches and drill sergeants or by their own sense of immortality, they work out or engage in sports on summer afternoons and, as we observe every year, some fall victim to heat stroke.. There is a popular misconception that exercising in the heat, drenched in sweat, is a more effective way to lose weight or to get in shape than is exercising during cooler parts of the day. This, of course, is false and such behavior invites disaster.
Despite these admonitions, repeated throughout the summer by news and weather reporters, many will ignore the warnings and our current heat wave will be the last for some young athletes. We may be designed for the tropics but there are limits to our capacity to dissipate heat. Staying well hydrated is important but common sense is our best means of protection.