Summer Health Hazards: What to Know and How to Prevent Them
For most people, summer means the start of long sunny days, time for swimming in the pool or at the beach, cookouts, party get-togethers, vacations, and relaxation time. In essence, summer means enjoyment and fun.
But summertime can also be a time for children and adults to be at higher risk for some injuries and other health hazards. Some summertime-related activities can impact a person’s or child’s health, so it is important to be mindful of them to prevent unwanted accidents or health problems that can interrupt the enjoyment of this wonderful season.
Advice for Child Care Providers and Home Health Aides
If you are thinking about a career as a Child Care Provider or a Home Health Aide, such as through programs offered at Blackstone Career Institute, it is important to know and be prepared for possible accidents or health issues that can happen during the summer. By increasing your awareness of summertime health hazards, you can educate adult clients as a home health aide, or parents of children as a child care provider with information to help prevent these misadventures from happening.
Be Prepared & Bypass the Hazards
Although there are many health concerns surrounding summer, these are the most frequently occurring that a Child Care Provider or Home Health Aide may encounter when working with their clients.
- Water-related Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children ages one to four are at the highest risk of dying from drowning, and most drowning accidents occur in swimming pools. For children in this age group drownings can even happen in a bathtub. For children ages five to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death. And although children are at higher risk, adult deaths from drowning are estimated to be 11 deaths per day.
- Continuous close adult supervision of children and the elderly, whether at a pool or at the beach.
- Pool fencing for homes with children.
- Place water floatation wear such as water wings on children.
- Teach children water survival methods.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Have life jackets for both adults and children when boating.
- Heat-related injuries
Although soaking up all the sunshine that is possible before summer ends is tempting, too much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause health havoc, and many of these heat-related injuries can cause serious problems.
Most heat-related injuries start with dehydration from spending too much time in the sun whether relaxing, going for a walk, or working outside. We are always reminded to drink more water, but increasing water intake during the summer when the temperatures are warmer and children and adults spend time outdoors is important.
Trying to work on getting that summer tan is great but too much exposure can lead to not only painful sunburn but sun damage. Repeated sun damage can also put a person at higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke can result in serious consequences and even death. In the United States, there are estimated 68,000 heat-related visits to the emergency room and 700 deaths each year due to these summertime health conditions. Heat exhaustion symptoms include fatigue, heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke if not treated. Heat stroke symptoms include high core body temperature (above 104 degrees), confusion, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and skin hot to the touch but not sweaty.
- Avoid sunburn and exercise outside at peak sun times of the day (usually between 11 am and 4 pm depending on where you live).
- Use sunscreen. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher for most children and adults.
- Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Drink before you are thirsty and before working or relaxing outside.
- Wear light-colored and protective clothing.
- Foodborne Illness
Firing up the grill for that outdoor barbeque or picnic is a common summer event. Because of warmer temperatures, bacteria can grow more rapidly on food. Perishable food left unrefrigerated or grilled meat not heated to the right cooked temperature can lead to food poisoning. The CDC estimates close to 130,000 individuals become ill, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States.
- Throw out perishable food if left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.
- Pack easily spoiled food in a cooler with ice when camping or on a picnic.
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure any grilled meat is at a safe temperature to eat.
- Insect Bites
Another summer health concern is insect bites. Although some may be just an annoyance and interruption to summer festivities, there are some insect bites that can lead to serious illnesses such as Lyme disease from ticks, West Nile virus from mosquitoes, or anaphylactic shock from people allergic to bee stings.
- If walking or hiking on a trail, especially in a forested area, wear long-sleeve clothing and pants, and make sure socks are placed over your pant legs to cover any openings.
- Use insect repellant even when going for a short walk.
- If allergic to bee stings always carry an epinephrine auto-injector.
Know Other Possible Summer Health Hazards
Products related to summertime activities for children such as trampolines, bicycles, skateboards, and playground equipment all pose hazards as well. Fireworks both for adults and children cause many accidents and trips to the emergency room each year.
Child Care Providers and Home Health Aides need to know these summer-related health hazards and preventive steps to take in advance when temperatures rise. As well, knowing what to do when any of these events do occur is critical.
As a responsible care provider whether in a home, daycare, or another setting, you can be the difference maker in impacting a life and making summer enjoyable.