If you’re like most people, you’re probably looking forward to spending as much time outdoors as possible this summer. But before you head out, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
The hot weather comes with its own set of hazards, from sunburn and dehydration to bug bites and bee stings. But there are plenty of ways to stay safe and enjoy the summer weather. Here are eight expert tips to help you do just that.
Summer Safety Tip 1: Swimming Safety
Nothing beats a dip in the pool on a hot summer day. But it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with swimming, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 people drown in the United States every day, and one in five of those deaths is a child under the age of 14 (3).
To help prevent accidents, the CDC recommends that everyone know how to swim and that children around water should be supervised at all times.
If you’re swimming in a pool, make sure there’s someone nearby who can keep an eye on you. And if you’re swimming in open water, such as a lake or ocean, be sure to use caution and heed any warning signs that may be posted.
Chemical injuries are also a risk when swimming in chlorinated pools (6). To avoid these, the CDC recommends checking out the latest inspection score of the pool you’re planning to swim in and avoiding pools that have a strong chlorine smell.
Hot tubs, spas, and water playgrounds can also pose the risk of drowning, especially for young children. Be sure to take the same precautions around these as you would around any other body of water.
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Summer Safety Tip 2: Sun Safety
The sun’s rays may feel good, but too much exposure can lead to serious health problems, including skin cancer (5). In fact, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) (9).
To protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, the AAD recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying it every two hours or after swimming or sweating. It’s also a good idea to wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants, and to seek shade whenever possible.
Remember, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it’s especially important to take precautions during these hours.
Summer Safety Tip 3: Heat Safety
With temperatures on the rise, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of heat exposure. According to the CDC, extreme heat can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal (2). Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, confusion, and unconsciousness.
To avoid heat stroke, the CDC recommends staying cool and hydrated in hot weather. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and sports drinks, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. If you’re spending time outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned space.
Be sure to check on elderly family members and neighbors during periods of extreme heat. They may be at a higher risk for heat-related health problems.
Summer Safety Tip 4: Food Safety
High temperatures allow foodborne germs to thrive (4). In fact, the CDC estimates that each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food (1).
To avoid getting sick, the CDC recommends following these food safety tips:
- Wash your hands often, especially before and after handling food.
- Keep food refrigerated until you’re ready to cook it.
- Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
- Avoid cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other food.
- Don’t leave food out in the heat for more than two hours.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils after they’ve been in contact with raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
- Clean up any spills in the kitchen right away.
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Summer Safety Tip 5: Bug Safety
Bugs aren’t just a nuisance in the summertime-they can also carry disease. For example, mosquitoes can transmit Malaria, West Nile virus, and ticks can carry Lyme disease (10).
To protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites, the CDC recommends using an EPA-registered insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
You should also take steps to control mosquitoes and ticks around your home by eliminating standing water, trimming vegetation, and using screens on doors and windows.
Summer Safety Tip 6: Fireworks Safety
Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate Independence Day, but they can also be very dangerous. Not reading instructions before use, not having an adult present, and using fireworks that are illegal in your state are all risky behaviors.
The best way to stay safe is to attend a professional fireworks display. But if you do choose to use fireworks at home, the National Safety Council recommends following these safety tips:
- Don’t allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Older children should only use fireworks with adult supervision.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Soak used fireworks in water for several hours before disposing of them.
- Never re-light or pick up fireworks that have been used.
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Summer Safety Tip 7: Travel Abroad Safely
If you’re planning on travelling outside of the country this summer, it’s important to do your research ahead of time. More importantly, you should be aware of what health risks are a concern at your destination.
One of the best things you can do before travelling is to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. They have great tips on everything from what vaccinations you might need to how to avoid getting sick while you’re away.
Make sure you’re up-to-date on your routine vaccines i.e. measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, as well as any that are specific to your destination. The CDC website can help you figure out which ones those might be.
You should also pack a travel health kit with items like over-the-counter medication, bandages and antiseptic wipes.
Exercising caution while at your destination is also important. This means avoiding risky behaviors like swimming in freshwater lakes or rivers, which could lead to infection (8).
Food and water safety is another big concern while traveling. Make sure you only drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes, raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized dairy products. It’s also a good idea to stick to cooked food that’s served hot.
It’s also a good idea to avoid contact with animals, both wild and domestic. If you must pet an animal, make sure to wash your hands afterwards (7).
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Summer Safety Tip 8: Worker Safety
The summer isn’t all about fun in the sun. Many people are working hard to make sure that we can enjoy our time off. That’s why it’s important to be aware of worker safety during the summer months.
Young people, especially, may not be aware of the dangers that come with certain summer jobs. For example, lifeguards need to be prepared for everything from sun exposure to rip currents. And farm workers must take care not to get overheated or dehydrated while working in the hot sun.
Here are some tips to help keep workers safe during the summer:
- Encourage workers to take breaks often, especially if they feel like they are getting too hot.
- Make sure that workers have access to plenty of water and encourage them to drink frequently, even if they don’t feel thirsty.
- Provide shade for workers who are outdoors. If possible, schedule outdoor work for cooler times of day, such as early morning or evening.
- Encourage workers to wear loose, light-colored clothing.
- Monitor weather conditions and be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Have a first-aid kit readily available, and know how to use it.
- Make sure that workers know how to stay safe in case of an emergency, such as a fire or severe weather.
- Have a plan in place for dealing with heat-related illnesses.
The Bottom Line
Summer is a time to relax and have fun, but it’s also important to be aware of potential risks. By following these safety tips, you can help ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Burden of Foodborne Illness: Findings (2018, cdc.gov)
- EXTREME HEAT CAN IMPACT OUR HEALTH IN MANY WAYS (n.d., cdc.gov)
- Drowning Facts (2022, cdc.gov)
- Foodborne pathogens (2017, nih.gov)
- How does the sunca and UV cause cancer? (2021, cancerresearchuk.org)
- Pool Chemical Injuries in Public and Residential Settings (2019, cdc.gov)
- Proper Hygiene When Around Animals (2021, cdc.gov)
- Recreational Water Illnesses (n.d., dih.wah.gov)
- SKIN CANCER (2022, aad.org)
- Vector-borne diseases (2020, who.int)