During this unrelenting heat wave we have heard many warnings to protect the health of our area's elderly, who are among the most vulnerable. And we have heard the horror stories about leaving children, handicapped people and pets in parked cars.

However, the message that heat kills may not be reaching everyone; all of us, regardless of age or general health, should be conscious of our activity level as well as our need for extra water. Carl P. Dolan recently died of heat stroke during trials for a cycling race [obituary, July 27]. His family, friends, middle school students and their parents are broken-hearted over his death. And the question keeps coming up: Why did this happen?

Those who participate in any sort of outdoor activity during the summer months need to be reminded that death from heat stroke isn't a fate reserved for the elderly or the confined. It can happen to anyone who is not taking adequate precautions. Sports teams, race officials, participants and spectators need to be aware of the dangers, and if necessary, an event should be canceled or curtailed until conditions improve.

Mr. Dolan was my son's favorite teacher and a man whom I greatly respected and admired. Perhaps this is his last lesson for us: that physical fitness, endurance and a will to win cannot overcome a 100-degree day.

ELLEN WILDS

Silver Spring