Summer Safety: Common Injuries and Illnesses to Avoid for a Fun-Filled Season

With the arrival of summer, people flock to outdoor activities and fun in the sun. However, alongside the excitement, emergency rooms across the country witness an upswing in the number of summer-related injuries and illnesses. From sunburns to accidents, it is crucial to be aware of common hazards. Preventive measures are key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable summer. Below are five frequent summer injuries and illnesses seen in the ER and how to avoid them.

1. Sunburn and Heat-Related Illnesses
Prolonged exposure to the sun without adequate protection can result in painful sunburns, heat exhaustion, or even life-threatening heatstroke. To avoid these conditions, remember to:
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Seek shade during peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect against direct sunlight.
2. Drowning and Water-Related Accidents
Summer is synonymous with water activities. It is vital to prioritize water safety to prevent drowning and water-related accidents, especially among children. Follow these precautions:
  • Never leave children unattended near water, even for a moment.
  • Ensure everyone wears life jackets when boating or participating in water sports.
  • Learn CPR and basic water rescue techniques.
  • Install proper barriers around home pools and secure gates to prevent unsupervised access.
3. Insect Bites and Stings
Summer brings a surge in insect populations, increasing the likelihood of insect bites. To reduce the chances of encountering these pests and minimize the discomfort associated with their bites:
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or other recommended ingredients.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors and floral-scented perfumes or lotions.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks when spending time in areas with high insect activity.
  • Check for ticks after outside activities on yourself and young children.
4. Bicycle and Sports-Related Injuries
The warmer months encourage outdoor sports and cycling, leading to an increase in bicycle accidents and sports-related injuries. Stay safe by following these guidelines:
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads when cycling, skateboarding, or participating in sports activities.
  • Observe traffic rules and stay visible while on the road.
  • Warm up before engaging in physical activities to prevent strains, sprains, and muscle injuries.
5. Foodborne Illnesses
Picnics, barbecues, and outdoor dining are popular summer pastimes, but improper food handling can lead to foodborne illnesses. To reduce the risk of food poisoning:
  • Keep perishable foods refrigerated until ready to cook or serve.
  • Cook meats thoroughly, using a food thermometer to ensure safe temperatures.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods.
  • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizers when water is unavailable.
By being mindful of these common summer injuries and illnesses and taking preventive measures, you can enjoy a safe and memorable season. Remember to prioritize safety, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from excessive sun exposure. With these precautions in place, you can fully embrace the joys of summer while keeping potential emergencies at bay.

When you do require care, the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center Emergency Department and Immediate Care branches are here for you. Learn more about which to choose here.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for specific guidance related to your health and safety.

Posted: 7/20/2023 by Brett Sweeney, MD, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center