When it comes to seasons, summer is the popularity shoo-in. However, summer simultaneously is high season for injuries and illnesses, many of which are avoidable. Not surprisingly, the National Safety Council designates June of each year as National Safety Month.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most prevalent summer aliments are:
- Falls and sports injuries (resulting in strains, sprains, fractures, or abrasions);
- Head injuries (such as from skateboarding, bicycling, or rollerblading);
- Insect bites (stinging insects, as well as ticks, are plentiful this time of year; bug bites can cause severe allergic reactions, and ticks can carry Lyme disease);
- Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (heat stroke is particularly concerning, as it can be fatal);
- Burns (not only from overexposure to the sun, but also from fireworks, grills, and campfires);
- Food poisoning (often occurs when perishable items are left outdoors for extended periods).
Children are particularly vulnerable to summer’s potential dangers, so adults are urged to be especially mindful of water safety, bicycle safety, and sun safety.
Based on the most recent annual statistics provided by the CDC, about 10 people die daily from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency-department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Additionally, some 350 people die annually from drowning in boating-related incidents.
Given that youngsters are most at risk of drowning, the Center for Injury Research and Policy recommends:
- Have children receive professional swimming instruction when they are 4 to 5 years old.
- Ensure that an adult is always present when children are swimming.
- Instruct youngsters to enter shallow water feet first and to never dive into water that is less than nine-feet deep.
- Remove toys from the pool once children are done swimming.
- Avoid using inflatable swimming aids such as “water wings;” approved life vests are recommended.
Although adults sustain biking injuries, children are particularly prone to this risk, so it’s important that parents take proper precautions on their behalf. Toward this end, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:
- Refrain from putting children on a two-wheeled bike until they are about 5 or 6, and stick to foot brakes until they are more experienced and can operate hand brakes.
- Do not buy a bicycle that a child is to “grow into;” the bike should be the proper size at the time of purchase.
- Insist that your child always wear a bicycle helmet.
- Buy a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Make sure the helmet is worn level on the head and that it can’t be moved in any direction.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. More than 1.2-million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in America, and one person dies from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour.
Proper use of sunscreen is a good first step. With this goal in mind, the National Cancer Institute shares the most common sunscreen mistakes:
- Applying sunscreen after going outdoors. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
- Failing to apply enough sunscreen. Experts recommend using about one ounce.
- Forgetting to reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating.
- Assuming that one application of sunscreen provides all-day protection. Even if you’re not swimming or sweating, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.
- Using sunscreen only when it’s sunny. Clouds don’t obstruct harmful UV rays.
Visit the National Safety Council’s website to learn more!