With the sun shining, barbeques firing up, and outdoor activities making a comeback, summer is officially here. And just like any season, it’s important to consider safety concerns to avoid any unexpected trips to the emergency room.

Watch out in the water

Whether you’re at the beach, poolside or on a lake, bodies of water can be hazardous if you don’t take proper precautions. Some helpful tips to make the most out of your water activities include:

  • Always have someone nearby when going in the water.
    • According to the CDC, every year in the United States there’s an estimated 4,000 fatal drownings and 8,000 nonfatal drownings. Anyone can drown no matter how advanced of a swimmer they are. Having a parent, friend, or lifeguard around can potentially save your life.
  • Stay calm and don’t fight the rip currents
    • If you find yourself slowly drifting from shore while in the ocean, you’re probably stuck in a rip current. It’s important to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. From there, head back towards shore.

Grilling responsibly

Summer is the perfect time for barbeques, but a fun-filled grilling day can quickly turn into unusual abdominal pain, or a flame gone awry.

  • Be cautious when cleaning your grill
    • Using the wrong tool to clean your grill can leave behind debris that can cause abdominal pain if swallowed. When using tools like stainless steel or a brass wire brush, pieces of wire can easily get stuck to the surface of the grill and adhere to food the next time it’s used. A study published in the journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery found that from 2002 to 2014, around 1,700 Americans went to the emergency room after ingesting wire bristles from their grilled food.
  • Remember that you’re dealing with an open flame
    • In 2020 the National Fire Protection Association reported that from 2014 to 2018, there was an average of 10 civilian deaths, 160 injuries and an estimated 10,600 home structure and outdoor fires due to grilling. To avoid any potential injuries, it’s important to take some safety precautions. Don’t pour water directly on charcoal, avoid leaning directly over the grill, don’t leave a lit grill unattended, and use protective gear to provide an extra layer of protection (oven-mitts, heat resistant gloves and aprons).

SPF and keeping cool is key

Fun in the sun is the theme for the summer, but too much fun can lead to harmful exposure to excess heat and strong UV rays.

  • Take breaks from the heat
    • Heat illness occurs when the body can’t cope with consistent exposure to high temperatures. Emergency Department Medical Director, Adam Wos MD says, “Heat illness can be avoided by staying in a cool/shaded well-ventilated space, by maintaining adequate hydration, and by limiting physical activity when the temperature feels hot. Vulnerable groups to heat illness include children under four, people over age 65, pregnant women, and athletes. Some warning sings of heat illness include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness, or feeling faint. If any of these symptoms occur, you should get to an air-conditioned space, or take a cool bath as soon as possible. Electric fans may not help when the temperature goes above 90 degrees.”
  • Reapply your sunscreen
    • It’s a common misconception that SPF (sun protection factor) numbers translate to how long you can stay exposed in the sun. In fact, SPF measures the quantity of UV radiation required to produce sunburn. In short, this means that SPF is not directly related to time spent in the sun, but rather the amount of UV radiation you receive. For example, you can be exposed to the same amount of UV rays for one hour at 9am as you can in just 15 minutes at 1pm. Therefore, it’s crucial to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day to avoid burns or potential sun poisoning.

These are just a few of the safety tips that will help keep you on track to have a fun and safe summer.