July 23, 2019
Summer: the ultimate season for being outside and soaking up the sun before the leaves inevitably fall once more. While it may seem like it’s all fun and games, summer is no excuse to put health and safety on the backburner. Health hazards can quickly ruin that summer barbecue or family beach day, so prevent the buzzkill by being on the lookout for these common summer health hazards.
Summer days are often spent hanging out by the pool and other bodies of water, but the excess heat means you have to drink more water, not just be near it. To combat summer’s intense heat, the body creates more sweat. This is great for cooling us down, but it’s important to remember that the more you sweat, the more water-depleted your body becomes. This can to anything from a minor headache to full-blown heatstroke, which can have dire consequences.
Fortunately, preventing dehydration is simple: Drink water—not just when you’re thirsty, but consistently throughout the day. Scheduling outdoor activities around the temperature, such as limiting outside time during the heat of the afternoon, is also a good idea that can prevent your body from sweating more than necessary. There are even apps and high-tech water bottles made to combat dehydration, sending reminders whenever you should take another swig of water.
Despite efforts from health officials to raise awareness about the risks of sunburn, many people forget to apply sunscreen regularly, or simply forgo sunscreen with the hopes of achieving that perfect tan. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to intense sunburns that drastically increase the risk of skin cancer. In fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Before heading out for a day in the sun, always use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and be sure to apply it liberally every two hours. If you have children, teach them healthy sunscreen habits early on to ensure a lifetime of responsible sun care.
Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, but it’s also a great time for ticks to find their host. You don’t need to be hiking through the wilderness to pick up a tick—everyone should be on the lookout, even if you’re just having fun in your own backyard. Ticks are small and nearly impossible to feel when they bite, which can leave people unaware that they’ve got an unwelcome companion. If you’ve spent time outside, especially in areas with tall grass and dense wood, be sure to do a body check on any exposed skin of the arms, legs, neck, back, ears, and scalp. If you’ve found a tick or tick bite, stay vigilant about checking for symptoms like a bullseye-shaped rash or unusual fatigue. These can be a sign of Lyme disease , a serious bacterial illness that can cause fever, fatigue, joint pain, and nervous system complications.
Whether you’re hanging out in your backyard pool or vacationing at the beach, summer’s focus on water activities puts people at a much higher risk for water-related health hazards—especially among children. To minimize the risk of drowning and water-related injuries, it’s recommended that all parents whose children have access to water activities know how to swim, take lessons in CPR and first aid, and exercise “touch supervision,” which means to always be in arm’s reach of children while they’re in the water. Adults should also exercise precaution to prevent drowning, avoiding water activities while drinking alcohol and wearing life jackets in large bodies of water.
These summer health hazards don’t have to ruin a good time. Taking a few simple precautions can ensure safe fun in the sun all summer long!