summer safety tips

Summer Safety Tips
A Comprehensive Resource

  Summer often implies warmth, fun, and sunshine, but it can also bring heat overexposure, heat exhaustion, heat-induced illnesses, sunburn, poison, and stings. Learn how to protect yourself with these summer safety tips.

Statistical Importance: high

Heat is the top weather-related killer in the United States. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died(4)

The Dangers of Heat

Fill up on water regularly to remain hydrated. If you’re thirsty, you’re not hydrated.

Never leave a child or pet enclosed in a vehicle on a hot day; the temperature inside can surpass 100 degrees in mere minutes.

Avoid strenuous exercise on particularly hot days.

  • Early morning and late evenings are the coolest times to work out.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Very sweaty
  • Feeling weak, tired, giddy, and/or nauseous
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Clammy skin, pale or flushed
  • Vomiting or fainting (if severe)

What to do:

  • Rest in a shaded, cool area.
  • Drink an electrolyte beverage (a sports drink like Gatorade).
  • Avoid carbonated and caffeinated beverages.
  • If severe, call 911 and request an ambulance immediately

Signs of heat stroke:

  • Confusion or delirium
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Dry and hot skin, often red- or blue-tinged

What to do:

  • Call 911 and request an ambulance immediately
  • Rest in a cool area
  • Soak in cool water or fan the person vigorously

Signs of heat cramp

  • Muscle cramping or spasms
  • May occur during work, or some time may elapse

What to do:

  • Drink an electrolyte beverage (a sports drink like Gatorade).
  • If symptoms persist, seek medical attention

Signs of heat syncope (fainting)

  • Sweaty skin but normal body temperature
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Lacks symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion

What to do:

  • Lie down in cool place, raise legs or lower head to help oxygen (blood) flow to the brain.
  • If symptoms persist, seek medical attention

Signs of heat rash (also known as “prickly heat”)

  • Small pink or reddish bumps along the skin
  • Irritation, itchiness, and a particularly “prickly” sensation
  • Occurs when the body’s sweat can’t easily evaporate (i.e. very humid environments)

What to do:

  • Reduce the chance of an infection by maintaining the skin as clean and dry as possible
  • Refresh the body with cool baths and cool air conditioning
  • Wear loose cotton clothes
  • Check for specific over-the-counter lotions to ease the symptoms.

If you're an employer, consider having a heat stress training for your employees to give them better understanding on the effects of heat stress on their health & safety and how it can be prevented.

Statistical Importance: Low

130 people died during the summer of 2000 in Texas (7)

The Importance of Hydration

Don’t start exercising if you’re not well-hydrated first. Very few summer safety tips are as important as adequate hydration.

Copious sweating is a sign for you to up your water intake.

When playing, working, or doing sports outdoors, stop for frequent water breaks.

Avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages, which dehydrate you.

Avoid very cold drinks, which can cramp your stomach.

Did You Know?
Children Under 16 Are Especially Vulnerable To ATV Injuries 28% of ATV related injuries are incurred by children under the age of 16.(1) Drowning is a Leading Killer for 1 to 4 Year OldsDrowning is the second leading cause of death among 1 to 4 year olds at a massive 30%, surpassed only by birth defects.(2) Safety Training Is Imperative for Boat Drivers 90% of boating related deaths occur when the instructor had not received safety instructions.(3)
Action Items
  • Stay in a cool, shaded area.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Wear clothing that’s loose and light.
  • Don’t overdo it—work, play, and exercise more lightly than usual.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with shade and sunscreen.
  • Stay informed. Know the signs and symptoms of heat overexposure, and what you can do to help.

Statistical Importance: high

Of the 484 mortality who drowned in a boating accident in 2010, 81% were reported to not be wearing a life jacket.(5)

Safety Tips at the Beach or Pool

Never leave a child unattended in a pool, spa, or sea.

If you have a pool at home, make sure it’s fenced in or shut down securely when not in use.

Keep rescue equipment close at hand

  • A long pole with a “shepherd’s hook” at the end
  • A life preserver
  • Lifejackets
    1. Make sure these items are made of fiberglass or a material that won’t conduct electricity.
  • Avoid “floaties” (inflatable floating aids), which offer a false sense of security; they do not substitute for lifejackets.

Children (and anyone who can’t swim) should wear lifejackets at all times when participating in any water-related sport or activity.

Never use a pool with broken (or lacking!) drain covers; suction from drains have been known to trap swimmers underwater.

Provide some formal swimming lessons for a child; they do lower the risk of accidental drowning.

Make sure there’s an attentive lifeguard, especially where there are children.

Never swim alone. Even if you’re an excellent swimmer, you can’t plan for every emergency; you may be stung, get a cramp, or somehow lose your senses or ability to swim.

Realize if someone is drowning. The wild flailing and screaming that you see in the movies? Unfortunately, you won’t often get those cues.

  • People are too busy to scream; they’re trying to breathe.
  • Their mouths begin sinking underwater, so they can’t call out.
  • They won’t wave for help; their arms instinctively push downwards to help propel their bodies higher above the surface.
  • Watch for glassy or unfocused eyes, hyperventilation or gasping, hair over the face, or head too low in the water.
  • Instinctively, drowning people remain upright and forget to kick in order to stay afloat—remind them to kick, or (if possible) to relax and float on their back.
  • They often have only 20-60 seconds before submersion, unless rescued.

Statistical Importance: high

Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, with more than 1 Million people diagnosed each year. (6)

Avoiding and Alleviating Sunburn

Limit sun exposure (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) when it’s at its fiercest.

Apply sunscreen with SPF 15+ at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply liberally every couple hours (at least).

Seek shade even before you need relief, and reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

Dress wisely; tight-woven cotton loose-fitting shirts and pants offer the best protection;

  • Dry clothes offer more protection than wet clothes.
  • Don’t depend just on your clothes, which typically have an SPF rating of around 8.

For infants under six months,

  • Avoid sun exposure if possible.
  • Cover infant in lightweight long-sleeved clothes and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Apply minimal sunscreen to face and back of hands.
  • If sunburnt, treat the affected area with a cool compress.

For children and adults,

  • Cover up with cotton tight-woven clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
    1. Sunglasses should provide 97%+ protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen (SPF 15+) on both sunny and cloudy days.
  • Reapply sunscreen regularly and liberally, especially if swimming or sweating.

Statistical Importance: low

The US has a reported 7.8 incidence of Lyme Disease last 2011. (8)

Recognizing Poisonous Plants, Creatures, and Habits

Avoid bug-infested areas

  • Ticks prefer thick undergrowth and tall grass.
    1. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and other lethal infections.
  • Mosquitoes frequent places with entrapped, still water.
    1. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus.
  • Fleas often latch on to animals, including pets.
    1. Fleas can carry plague.

Avoid bug-friendly hours (mosquitoes love dusk to dawn.)

After coming indoors, shower and check your body for ticks.

  • If you find one, you can easily remove it with fine-tipped tweezers.

Repel the bugs.

  • Use a bug repellent containing DEET (but wash it off when indoors).
  • Don’t apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Don’t apply repellent to clothing-covered skin.
  • Don’t apply to face, especially not eyes or mouth.
  • Scented soaps, perfumes, and hair sprays attract bugs.
  • Drinking beer also attracts mosquitoes

Remove insect stingers.

  • If you’ve been stung by a bee, wasp, or such insect, remove the stinger first by using a straight-edged object (credit card, flat-edged knife).
  • Wash with soap and water, and apply ice.
  • If you’re allergic, or notice growing swelling, pain, or redness, seek medical attention immediately.

Watch out for poisonous plants.

  • Wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and boots in the woods.
  • If infected by poison ivy, clean skin with rubbing alcohol, and then with soap and water. (It isn’t contagious, and doesn’t spread by scratching.)
  • Pets can also pick up poison ivy.

Avoid heavy drinking. To ensure that the party isn’t over before it begins, drink lightly, especially on hot days and nights when your body craves water more than anything else.

Keep food safe.

  • Cook meat thoroughly.
    1. Separate cooked meat from raw meat to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning
    2. Use a meat thermometer; ground beef should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  • Keep food stored in a cool and dry place.
  • At a picnic, carry food in a cooler with a cold pack
    1. A full cooler is colder than a half-empty one.
  • If food must be refrigerated, do so promptly.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly; remove outer peel.
  • Always take bottled water to drink; never risk drinking from a lake, stream, or pond.

Statistical Importance: N/A

No relevant statistics available

Caring for Your Pet

Provide a shady spot for your pet to rest at when outdoors; doghouses can trap heat and get really uncomfortable. This is all but guaranteed to be your pets favorite summer safety tip.

Don’t overexpose them to hot sand or asphalt; paws may be burnt.

Watch out for brachycephalic (short- or flat-faced) dogs, which can’t pant as effectively as long-jawed dogs. Provide a cool indoor space.

Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date since your pet will probably spend more time outdoors and in contact with other animals.

Keep pets away from chemically-treated lawns, as well as toxic plants and flowers.

Use a vet-recommended preventive to keep parasites—like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes—at bay.

Provide water and the regular shower (or dousing with a hose).

Don’t force your pet to swim and never leave it unattended in the water.

Be on the lookout for heatstroke: heavy panting, quick or labored breathing, vivid tongue and gums, woozy movements.

  • To cool down: hose down, let it lick ice cubes, or put ice packs on the groin area and rubbing alcohol on paw pads.

Statistical Importance: high

Among skateboarders 50.8% had head injuries, compared to 33.7% of inline skaters, and 18.8% of roller skaters.(9)

Man-made Inventions and Their Risks

Lawn mowers

  • Should be used only if there’s a control that terminates the mower blade movement when the handle is released.
  • Wear sturdy shoes (never sandals and never barefoot) when mowing.
  • Prevent injuries by removing stones, toys, sticks, and other objects in the lawn so that they don’t turn into airborne missiles later.
  • Always turn the machine off and ensure the blades are motionless before removing or unclogging parts.
  • Always turn the machine off before pushing it across gravel, paths, or roads.
  • Keep children and pets away from the lawn when mowing.
  • If using a ride-on mower, drive up and down slopes, and never across; you might be upended—and trapped or killed.

Bicycles.

  • Make sure your bike is the proper fit; and oversized bikes are particularly hazardous for children.
  • Wear a helmet all times, snug but not too tight.
  • Use reflectors and lights when riding at night.

Skateboards, scooters, and skates.

  • Wear protective gear, especially a helmet.
  • Use a local skateboard park, which is more likely to be monitored.
  • Never ride near moving traffic.
  • Wear bright, light-colored clothing to be seen at twilight hours; refrain from riding at night.

Playground safety.

  • Ensure equipment is clean, sturdy, and well maintained.
  • Choose playground with protective surfaces and loose-fill materials which provide cushioning above the ground.
  • Watch out for metal, rubber, and plastic products, which heat up most rapidly.
  • Don’t allow children to run barefoot on the playground.

Dangers from all-terrain vehicles.

  • Complete a hands-on training course.
  • If you’re too young to own a driver’s license, you shouldn’t be operating an off-road vehicle.
  • Don’t ride double; the added weight makes the ATV unstable and hard to control.
  • Two-wheeled ATVs, like all two-wheeled vehicles, pose a greater danger than regular passenger cars.

Firework hazards.

  • Fireworks are fun and beautiful, but they’ve also been a source of severe burns and scars.
  • Fireworks displays should be conducted by professionals.
  • Avoid using fireworks at home or on your own.