Summer is the season we all wait for. Sunny days, beaches, parks, and barbeques-what is there to worry about? Well, you may be surprised by the different summer-time factors that could lead to a safety hazard. While there is a fine line between becoming a worry-wart and being too laissez-faire, we break down the biggest health hazards and explain whether or not you should be worried.
1. Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI)
Reportedly recreational water illnesses have increased by approximately 200%. Various risks associated with RWIs occur when harmful bacteria infects the body. The most common side effect is diarrhea from swallowing water that has been contaminated. While this seems as though they are on the rise, RWIs actually can be quite rare. It has been reported that 31 infections were reported in the United States between 2003 and 2012, so we feel there is little reason to worry.
Drowning is reportedly one of the top fifth leading unintentional deaths in the United States. The inability to swim is the biggest risk factor. Alcohol increases this inability, and many boaters forget (or reject) to wear life jackets. This hazard comes down to safety – if you or someone you know cannot swim, then take lessons. Deny the booze for a day, and swim safely.
3. Shark Attacks
According to the National Safety Council, your chance of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million, but it is also reported that 47 shark attacks occurred in the United States in 2013. The risk factors to make this hazard more likely include swimming in murky water or during night, or an area near a sandbar, steep drop off, or very deep water. We feel there is no need to worry yourself with this one; of course if a lifeguard tells you to get out of the water then listen, but don’t worry your sunny beach days away with worrying about shark attacks.
4. Lightning Strikes
Statistics show that the likelihood of being struck by lightning are 1 in 500,000. Working outside heightens the risk of being struck by lightning, so those who work outdoors increase their likelihood of being struck. While you should probably not consume your worries with the thought of being struck by lightning, you can help avoid this from occurring by staying inside when thunderstorms occur.
5. Foodborne Illnesses
1 in 6 Americans contract food poisoning every year, and out of that number 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Foodborne bacteria flourish in the warm weather, so the summer heightens our exposure to this health hazard. This health hazard is completely preventable – cook all meats thoroughly, be sure to not cross-contaminate, and toss any unrefrigerated food (within reason, of course!).
6. Fireworks Injuries
Around the month of July, approximately 200 people frequent the emergency room for firework-related injuries. Typically it is the ground firecrackers or those you hold, such as sparklers that cause the most harm. Sparklers can burn skin similarly to a blowtorch and are cause for 12% of the firework-related injuries. While most fireworks are legal, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily safe. In order to stay safe from this one, we recommend you stick to the firework show instead.
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than one third of Americans suffer from sunburn every year. Anyone can be burnt by the sun regardless of skin tone. People who have lighter skin, live at higher altitudes, or take certain medications are at increased risk. Protect yourself from sunscreen and you should be relatively safe. Also stay in the shade during the middle of the day and wear a hat with a brim to protect yourself from the sun.
8. Heat Illness
700 deaths a year occur because of heat-related conditions. Sometimes sweating is not enough to save the body from overheating. Some heat illnesses include heat exhaustion, heat rash, cramps, and heat stroke; all of these illnesses feed off of a person’s body temperature. We highly recommend you drink an abundance of water and keep your outdoor activities to a minimum on very hot days.
9. West Nile
The Center for Disease Control reports that between 1999 and 2012 there was an average of 2,648 West Nile cases. Midwestern and Southern states are at a higher exposure rate to West Nile, even though the disease has been seen in all states. Also the elderly have heightened exposure as well. Most people who are infected with West Nile have only minor symptoms such as a fever and headache. Less than 1% of those infected ever experienced any inflammation of the brain.
10. Lyme Disease
The Center for Disease Control claims that approximately 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. Many states are at a higher risk than others. These states include: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maine. Always better to err on the side of caution! Wear long sleeves and pants when exposed to wooded areas, and constantly apply a product such as DEET to prevent ticks.
11. Poison Ivy, Sumac, and Oak
Millions of Americans are affected by one of these three skin conditions.
These various plans grow everywhere in the United States (with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii) in all types of areas: beaches, backyards, parks, etc. Severe rashes can be easily treated with corticosteroid pills or creams. Even though it may last about a week, these hazards can be easily healed.
12. Trampoline Injuries
From 2002 to 2011, more than 1 million people made their ways to the emergency room as a result of a trampoline mishap. Falling over the side or landing incorrectly may cause fractures, sprains, strains, bruises, and dislocations. Always be vigilant about safety when having children or company on the trampoline. It is recommended that you only allow one person at a time, and prevent children from performing flips.
13. Car Accidents
In the year 2012, more traffic-related deaths occurred in the summer months compared to any other months of the year. More inexperienced drivers are on the roads in the summer; people are traveling on vacation; motorcycles are out, so accidents rack up.
Remove all distractions while driving and ensure that everyone is buckled. Monitor your speed at all times, and perform routine maintenance on your car to ensure your vehicle’s safety.
14. Swimmer’s Ear
Approximately 2.4 million people visited their healthcare providers last year for this type of ear infection. Water becomes stuck in the ear, causing harmful bacteria to enter. If you dry out your ears immediately after swimming, then you will be just fine. If need be you can always swab with a Q-tip or use a hair dryer on low.
15. Grilling Injuries
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 8,800 grill fires occurs annually. These fires incur many deaths, injuries, and property damages. Propane grills heighten the risk of fire hazard. Follow the safety tips provided to you by the National Fire Protection Association and you should be just fine this grilling season!
16. Carcinogens from Grilling
Charred meats may increase the odds of developing pancreatic and breast cancer. When grilling meat in the open, two types of carcinogens can form: heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). While it is not officially proven that these factors cause cancer, it is definitely shown that they increase the risk of developing pancreatic and breast cancer. If you grill a few times a week during the summer, then you will be just fine!