Top Summer Health Hazards and How to Stay Safe

Summertime…and the livin’ is easy. It’s true, but there’s a catch. With the warmer weather comes a variety of different health and medical issues that we don’t even need to consider at other times during the year. My team at UpWellness put together a primer on the top summertime health hazards and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim.  Stay safe, 

-JL


Summer brings lots of fun with friends and family, but it also brings a number of health risks. Knowing how to stay safe and keep your family safe will ensure that your summer fun lasts all season long. 

Here are some of the most important summertime hazards to be aware of:

Heat Stroke

Just like your phone will send out an overheating warning when it gets too hot, your body does the same thing. A heat stroke occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures or prolonged activity in high temperatures for a long period of time. The core marker for a heat stroke is when the internal body temperature exceeds 104 F.

You may begin to experience a headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness which will soon advance to additional symptoms such as rapid and shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, nausea, confusion, fainting, and unconsciousness.  A heat stroke is considered an emergency, and anyone experiencing these symptoms needs immediate medical attention.

If you are planning a day outside in high temperatures, be sure to consume plenty of water and take frequent breaks from exercise to help keep your core body temperature cool.

Drowning

Each summer, millions of Americans take to the water. By motor boat, kayak canoe, water skis, swimming and more, oceans, lakes, swimming pools, and rivers are flooded with people looking for a unique and fresh water experience. Not including boating accidents, about ten people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to Injury Facts.  

The USA Swimming Foundation reports nearly 90 children younger than 15 drowned in a pool or spa from January through May 2018, and every year about 19 children drown during the July 4 holiday. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that boys under 15 die from drowning twice as often as girls and over 70% of all drownings for children under 15 occurred in residential locations. 

There is no doubt about it – drownings are a serious summer hazard and something to be very cautious of. If you are a parent, the best thing you can do is teach your children how to swim early in life and work with them regarding the seriousness of water safety. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and know how to spot and help a person who is struggling in the water.

Dehydration

Dehydration can occur quickly in the hot summer season when people are recreating in or on the water. Being around water can sometimes mask the need to consume water, and dehydration can set in suddenly. Signs of dehydration include very dark urine, dry skin, dizziness, sunken eyes, shallow breathing, irritability, lack of energy, confusion, and fainting. Remember, the body loses lots of water through sweating when it is hot – this water needs to be replaced. Always have plenty of water available for yourself and your family when enjoying all the summer fun outdoors.

Bug Bites

Depending on where in the country you live, bugs can put a serious kink in outdoor festivities and adventures. Anything from mosquito bites, bee stings, and beyond can cause pain, swelling, itching and steal the joy from your outdoor fun. To prevent painful bites and stings, apply a non-toxic bug repellent before going outdoors. There are several easy-to-make recipes that soothe skin and protect you from the onslaught of pests. For a simple fix, add a few drops of  sweet basil essential oil to some coconut oil and apply to exposed skin before going outdoors. Apply apple cider vinegar to bites and stings to reduce swelling and itching or take a warm oatmeal bath. If you plan on going hiking, wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a hat as well as proper hiking shoes.

Sunburn

A little sun is a great thing and necessary for overall health and wellness. However, just like many things, too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing. Despite the warnings from health officials, thousands of people spend too long in the hot summer sun and find themselves nursing a nasty sunburn as a result. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one-third of adults and nearly 70% of children admit that they have experienced a sunburn in the last year. The sun gives off three types of ultraviolet light waves – UVA, UVB, and UVC. While UVC light does not reach the surface of the earth, the other two types reach the earth and can penetrate the skin. A sunburn is the most obvious sign that your skin has absorbed too many of these rays. Sun damage is not always visible, however. Under the surface of the skin, ultraviolet light can not only cause premature aging but also alter your DNA. Over time, damage to DNA can cause skin cancers including melanoma. There are a number of variables that dictate the timing and severity of a sunburn including:

 

  • Your skin type
  • The intensity of the sun
  • The duration in the sun

 

A good way to stay protected from the sun is to limit exposure, wear clothes that cover your skin as well as a hat and apply a lightweight, organic sunscreen any time that you are outdoors. If you do get sunburned, apply aloe for pain relief, and reduce inflammation. Treat serious burns with honey and a light bandage.  

Injuries from Fireworks

What would summer be without fireworks? In 2017, there were 8 deaths and 12,900 injuries from fireworks. Sadly, the deaths include a four-year-old girl who died from shrapnel when a metal tube filled with sparklers exploded after being lit by her father. One man died when his home caught fire after his sister threw a lit firecracker at a rodent. An eleven-year-old boy who was home alone was experimenting with fireworks and other explosive devices when there was an explosion and a piece of metal hit his neck. There are countless other examples of people landing in emergency rooms with minor to serious injuries caused by fireworks. According to officials, two hundred people are injured daily in fireworks-related accidents around the 4th of July.

Whether you are attending a big firework show or putting one on in your very own backyard, safety should always be paramount. It is important to leave the fireworks to the professionals and talk to your family about the importance of firework safety.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Firework Warning

-The UpWellness Team

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