6 Summer Health Hazards: How to Protect Yourself

Now that it's summer, many more people are spending time outdoors having fun, relaxing in the sun or working.

Some, however, end up in hospital emergency rooms or at their doctor's office because of an illness or injury related to this time of year.

There are many summertime health hazards, and they seem to be present no matter what kind of activity people engage in.

Whether it's the heat, the sun, the water or fireworks, these are six of the biggest summertime health risks that take can take the fun out of summer vacation.


What Are the Dangers?

Video: Tips on how to stay safe this summer.
Summer safety health tips

The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission found fireworks were involved in more than 9,200 injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2006, and in a one-month period around July 4, there were more than 5,000 injuries. More than half the injuries were burns; but contusions, lacerations and objects in the eye also were reported.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause blindness, third -degree burns and permanent scarring. In addition, misuse is also associated with potentially fatal residential and motor vehicle fires.

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"We see fireworks injuries every year around the fourth of July," said Dr. Mark Moseley, medical director of the Emergency Department at The Ohio State University Medical Center. "Somehow, the message about the dangers of fireworks isn't getting out."

Who's Going to Get Hurt?

The CPSC's report highlights the risks fireworks pose to children and young adults – people younger than 20 suffered 47 percent of all injuries from fireworks, and sparklers accounted for one-third of injuries to children less than five years of age.

"Kids are curious and will want to play with them," said Moseley. "They will try and mimic the way they see adults using them, but they are uncoordinated and clumsy, so they can't handle them safely."

Because of dangers, The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a ban on backyard fireworks.

"There is no safe way to use them," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"If you want to see fireworks, go to a public display put on by professionals," he added.

However, the American Pyrotechnics Association says that just like any outdoor activity, fireworks pose a risk of injury if they're not used properly.

"Fireworks are part of the Independence Day celebration," said Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. "If you use them safely and responsibly, you'll have a safe holiday."

What Should I Do?

If you decide to go ahead with your own backyard fireworks show, there are a few tips that can keep you and your loved ones safe. Wear eye protection.

Keep all fireworks away from children.

Read and follow instructions on labels.

Have a garden hose and a bucket of water nearby.

Use them outdoors in an area free from debris.

Heat-related Illness

What Are the Dangers?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3,500 deaths from exposure to extreme heat were reported from 1999 to 2003 – an average of about 700 deaths per year.

Heat exhaustion is one of the milder forms of heat-related illness and often the first sign that the heat is starting to take its toll. The signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

As exposure to the heat increases, the risks can become life-threatening.

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