Whether you’re nine years old or ninety, pretty much everyone looks forward to the nicer weather and fun activities of summer. Here at Meritage Medical Network, we want everyone to enjoy their time off and their time outside, but we also want to make sure that people are aware of the health risks that accompany both the warmer weather and the kinds of activities that we all partake in during the summer. Below are some of the more surprising, but nonetheless important, risks to be aware of.
Summer Safety Hazards
Summer brings a whole new host of safety hazards that people tend to forget about over the course of the winter months. ER doctors face a slew of severe injuries all summer long that could be avoided with just a little bit of common sense. For example, lawnmowers are a source of constant medical trouble – whether it’s from rocks or other debris being ejected at high speeds or Harry Homeowner trying to work on or clean his mower without the proper knowhow (like removing the spark plug any time you plan to work on the mower since turning the blade can sometimes kick start it into action).
Boating injuries also skyrocket in the summer months; from inexperienced drivers to those who are just a little too enthusiastic about watersports, boating requires knowledge of local and state regulations as well as skill and experience (and sometimes certification) with the watercraft you’re operating.
Of course, there are also a lot of celebratory warm-weather holidays that involve fireworks. Most people are aware that fireworks can be incredibly dangerous, but they don’t take necessary precautions to make the area – and themselves – safe before lighting off what amount to, literally, explosives.
Whether partaking in fun (like shooting off fireworks or boating) or doing work around the house and yard (like mowing), drinking at the same time substantially increases your risk for injury. If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly and save it for a time when you won’t be operating heavy machinery or when you won’t be out in the sun for extended periods of time since alcohol not only dehydrates you faster but affects you more when you’re out in the sun.
Not so Fun in the Sun
Speaking of being out in the sun, higher temperatures and more powerful sunlight during the summer months can cause a lot of health problems. While it seems like everyone knows that sunburn and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun dramatically increases your risk for melanoma, the number of people who have been getting sunburned has, shockingly, been rising! If you’re going to be out and about and it’s sunny – wear sunscreen or clothing with UV protection. It’s that simple.
Dehydration is also a surprisingly prevalent issue during the summer months. Of course, many people are aware that they need to stay hydrated when it’s hot out, but many people also don’t take simple, proactive steps to increase their fluid intake. The absolute minimum volume of water an individual should consume each day is between 48 and 64 fluid ounces – and approximately 75% of Americans already aren’t drinking that much each day. Of course, when it’s hot out, you need more, so stock up on water and save your hard work for times of the day – like early morning or late evening – when it’s not as hot out.
It’s Not Just Plants that Like Warmer Weather
We all reap the benefits of warmer summer weather when flowers bloom and our garden plants thrive, but the warm weather also helps a lot of other things grow – like bacteria. While we all appreciate a nice cookout or pleasant picnic, it’s important to keep foods cold and/or make sure to cook them properly. If you’re going out of the house and taking along a meal that has foods like meat, mayonnaise, eggs, dairy, etc. in it, make sure to use an insulated container and stuff in plenty of ice packs to keep your perishable foods cold – even a couple hours unrefrigerated can turn that delicious deli sandwich into a dangerous source of food poisoning. And if you’re planning on cooking, don’t just quickly brown the outside of your burgers, hotdogs, etc. to “seal in the flavor.” Make sure your meats are fully cooked – preferably by using a meat thermometer (an internal temperature of 165 degrees is generally considered safe for the vast majority of meats).
Naturally, a lot of critters become much more active in the summer months as well, so people should make sure to be careful while they’re out enjoying those well-chilled picnics and well-cooked barbeques. From snakes to bees and wasps, an entirely new ecosystem comes alive in the warmer weather. In fact, it has been estimated that over 30% of Americans have life-threatening allergies to insect stings, and many people aren’t aware of their allergy until after they are stung. If you develop hives, have trouble breathing, experience swelling of the tongue or face, or become very dizzy after being stung, get to a hospital immediately.
A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to summer health risks. Although it’s tempting to be more casual and carefree when the weather outside is so nice and we’re enjoying ourselves, it’s still important to stay aware of your health and your safety. That way, you can keep enjoying your summer instead of being stuck inside recovering from an illness or injury!