Everyone wants to enjoy summer fun and activities. That said, there are hazards associated with most summer activities. Here are some tips to protect yourself and your family from summer safety hazards.
1. Heat Safety
The first thing most people think about when they hear “summer safety” is heat stress and heat-related illness. The human body normally can regulate its temperature through sweating, unless it is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death.
People at every age are at risk of suffering from a heat-related illness, but infants, those over 65 and people who are ill or have chronic health conditions or have certain medical conditions are more vulnerable. When temperatures soar or when spending time outside in hot weather, take extra breaks and drink lots of water. For employees who must work outside during hot or humid weather:
- Provide lots of water or electrolyte replacement drinks.
- Offer breaks during the hottest part of the day.
- Provide a cool place for employees to go if they start feeling ill because of the heat.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing and wear hats to keep the sun off their heads.
2. Grill Safety
U.S. fire departments respond to more than 10,000 home structure and outdoor fires involving grills per year. These fires cause an average of 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries and $149 million in direct property damage annually.
- Keep an eye on anything that burns.
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area and supervise them around recreational fires.
- Place the barbecue, fire pit or campfire in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures, especially wooden construction that can ignite.
- Never burn anything in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
- If you burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.
- Do not abuse alcohol while around fire.
- Place a metal cover over a burning fire pit to contain embers.
- Never leave a fire burning unattended.
- Coals and logs can burn and stay hot for a long time – do not kick them or touch them and cover them to protect others from accidental contact.
3. Bug Safety
Mosquitoes can cause a number of illnesses, including Zika Virus and West Nile Virus. Many people who have been exposed to Zika Virus won’t show any symptoms, said CDC Deputy Incident Manager Satish Pillai during a webinar hosted by the National Safety Council. Others will have mild symptoms, including fever, rash, conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) and muscle pain or headache lasting two to seven days, that can be treated with rest, fluids and acetaminophen, according to the World Health Organization. Employers should provide education about the risk of Zika and other mosquito-borne illness, supply mosquito repellant and furnish clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide.
Bee, wasp and hornet stings can be fatal, causing an anaphylactic reaction for those who are allergic. Take the following steps to prevent insect stings:
- Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothing.
- Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. Don’t wear cologne or perfume and avoid bananas and banana-scented toiletries.
- Wear clean clothing and bathe daily. (Sweat may anger bees.)
- Wear clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
- Avoid flowering plants when possible.
- Keep work areas clean. Social wasps thrive in places where humans discard food.
- Remain calm and still if a single stinging insect is flying around. (Swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.)
- If you are attacked by several stinging insects at once, run to get away from them. (Bees release a chemical when they sting, which may attract other bees.)
4. Playground Safety
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year, more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger go to U.S. hospital emergency departments with injuries associated with playground equipment. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for a traumatic brain injury, including concussion. To prevent playground injuries, check the following:
- Hard ground surfaces: Surfaces around playground equipment should have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials. Playgrounds should be free of exposed concrete footings, rocks or tree stumps.
- Overcrowded play areas: The area under and around play equipment should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions while swing set areas should be twice the height of the suspending bar both in back and front of the swings. Structures more than 30 inches high should be at least 9 feet apart.
- Unprotected elevated areas: Platforms higher than 30 inches should have guardrails or barriers.
- Head entrapment spaces: Openings between rails, bars, rungs and even ropes of cargo nets should be less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches.
- Sharp points and edges: Playground equipment should be free of protruding bolt ends, “S” hooks and other sharp points and edges.
5. Fireworks Safety
Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. Fireworks injure thousands of people each year, and more than half of them are children. Fireworks also start thousands of fires each year.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
- Anyone setting off fireworks should wear protective eyewear.
- Don’t hold lighted fireworks in your hands.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Never ignite devices in a container.
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby when lighting fireworks.
6. Water and Pool Safety
Drowning causes nearly 4,000 deaths a year in the United States. The younger the child, the greater the risk. Here are the top water safety tips:
- Never swim alone.
- Supervise children when they’re in the water.
- Don’t play breath-holding games.
- Always wear a life vest on boats and younger children should wear them or other types of floating devices in pools.
- Don’t jump in the water to save a friend. Use a long pole or throw them a life preserver to bring them to safety.
- Enter the water feet first.
- Stay away from pool drains.
- Stay within designated swim areas.
- Don’t drink and swim.
- Learn CPR.
7. Bike Safety
Bicyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. They often share the road with vehicles, but injuries can happen even on a bike path.
- Wear a helmet.
- Check the brakes and lights on the bike to ensure they are working properly.
- Obey the rules of the road.
- Know your limits in terms of terrain and distance.
8. Skateboarding Safety
Everyone falls and more than 100,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured skateboarding. Skateboard enthusiasts can avoid injuries by:
Check equipment – Always inspect your skateboard before your ride to make certain it is in good working order. Your skateboard should be free of:
- Loose, broken or cracked parts
- Sharp edges on metal boards
- A slippery top surface
- Wheels with nicks and cracks
Wear the right equipment – According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this essential protective equipment should be worn when skateboarding:
- Properly fitted multi-sport helmet meeting Consumer Product Safety Commission standards
- Close-toed, slip-resistant shoes
- Wrist guards
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
- Goggles or glasses
Learn to Fall – Did you know that falling is an art? Even experienced skateboarders fall. They most frequently are injured in falls caused by rocks and irregular surfaces. If done properly, falling doesn’t have to result in serious injury.
- If you feel like you’re about to lose control, crouch down so you don’t have as far to fall
- Try to land on the fleshy parts of your body
- Try to roll rather than absorbing the force with your arms
- Try to relax your body rather than going stiff
- Practice falling on a soft surface or grass
9. Boating Safety
Most boating experiences are positive. But joyful times quickly can turn deadly if boaters are not vigilant about safety.
- Know the state laws that govern recreational boating.
- Check the boat at the start of the season to ensure everything is in working order and make sure you check the radio so that you can call for assistance should something occur.
- Take advantage of free safety checks offered by the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron.
- Make sure guests on the boat are wearing life jackets.
- Have a tool kit and a first aid kit on board.
- Never drink and drive a boat.
- Don’t speed.
- Watch for weather advisories.
10. Pedestrian Safety
Cell phone distracted walking is a huge problem, and rarely are we more vulnerable than when walking, crossing streets and negotiating traffic. Also, remember to:
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
- Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Cross streets at crosswalks.
- If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.
- Stay alert – avoid cell phone use and wearing earbuds
- Avoid alcohol and drug impairment when walking.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing and use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots
11. Food Safety
Summertime is the right time for picnics and outdoor celebrations involving food. It’s also the time of year when the most cases of food poisoning occur. When shopping for groceries or eating outside, make sure to refrigerate perishable food within 1 hour if it’s 90°F or warmer. Read these CDC features for more tips on keeping food safe this summer, whether you’re grilling, planning a party or attending a fair or festival.
- If you’re preparing food in advance for a family reunion, a graduation party, or other event, divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in the refrigerator or freezer to cool it rapidly. Read more of CDC’s advice on safely cooking, preparing, and serving food for large groups.
- When grilling, throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
- At fairs, festivals, carnivals, and rodeos, follow these tips to have a safe cooking, eating and drinking experience. Before buying food, be sure the vendor has a license to sell food and that employees wear gloves and use tongs when serving food. Bring hand sanitizers or disposable wipes in case there aren’t any places to wash your hands.
- Don’t eat raw oysters. They can contain harmful bacteria that can make you very sick, even if they look, smell, and taste like any other oyster. Learn how to protect your health and avoid vibriosis, a disease linked to eating raw oysters.
Have a safe and fun summer!