After months of waiting, it’s here. Weeks upon weeks of mushy and wet roads, months of rain and cold weather, all for the moment people have been waiting for; Summertime. The holdup is over, and people cannot wait to start their summer vacation. However, while it might be full of fun and excitement, do not overlook the dangers and risks of the season. From heatstroke to sun damage, there are plenty of ways for fun activities to turn into hospital trips. Fret not, as, in this article, we will discuss what exactly some of these dangers are, as well as how to prevent them.
First off, one of the most prevalent issues regarding summer dangers– heat stroke. Its symptoms are deceptively mild: red, hot skin; throbbing headache; dizziness; and confusion can get lost in the sensory noises of intense outdoor sports. However, while there is a broad consensus that heat stroke is dangerous, most people do very little to actually prevent it from occurring, even as climate change increases the frequency and severity of heat waves. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, per year, there is an average of one thousand three hundred heat-related deaths in the United States. This number pales when compared to the calamitous aftermath of a climate change-induced heatwave: 619 deaths in British Columbia in one week (June 25–July 1, 2021). While these deaths are tragic and horrific, they are preventable, and the methods used to stop these from happening will be discussed later in this article.
A second massive issue regarding the summer is Sun damage and Sunburn. A certain Bill Wurtz once said, “the sun is a deadly laser.” They weren’t kidding either; when talking about sun damage, it’s generally regarded as the most concerning summer-related issue. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the United States, almost 1 in 3 people reported getting sunburnt, and over 400,000 cases of skin cancer have been related to sun damage every year. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that more knowledge is spread about the dangers of UV rays (the ones that are emitted by the sun and are largely attributed to any potential risk due to sun exposure).
A risk that many of us are guilty of is arguably the most preventable risk: dehydration. Dehydration is a massive risk surrounding the summertime; it is the number one cause of long-term disability. Once a person is dehydrated, they’re not only experiencing the effects of dehydration but are also further exposed to other related issues, such as the heat stroke previously mentioned as well as kidney damage, seizures, hypovolemic shock (low blood volume), and even susceptible to falling into a coma. This issue isn’t just a summer one– according to a study published in the National Library for Medicine, almost 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. For such a massive issue, it’s also largely preventable and such methods will be discussed later on.
The final major risk, especially for nature lovers, is tick bites. As they range from the size of a poppy seed to a sesame seed, ticks can be entirely undetectable until the symptoms of their transmitted Lyme disease appear, sometimes up to a month after the initial bite. Regular symptoms include fever, rash, and muscle ache, but more severe symptoms include facial paralysis and nervous system disorders such as memory loss. With climate change allowing more ticks to migrate into Northern regions, Ontario citizens have to be increasingly aware of ticks in the coming years.
It’s just about time to start discussing how these kinds of things can be prevented. The first thing that will be discussed isn’t a skill for just summer dangers, but something that can be helpful across your lifetime. This is, of course, first aid. 6/10 deaths can be prevented with basic first aid; so even uncertified experiences in first aid can be the difference between life and death. Many paid courses are available and issue First Aid certification upon completion, but the Red Cross has compiled a comprehensive and free-to-access guide on this essential skill. Just a week of reading can prepare you for summer and beyond.
A second tip that can make sure everybody stays healthy during the summer is quite a simple one. It’s just to make sure you bring water wherever you go. While the Mayo Clinic recommends around 125 ounces of water a day for the average man (15 cups), according to the CDC, they only get about 75 ounces on average (9 cups). As previously shown, chronic and severe dehydration can lead to numerous issues– that can all be prevented by simply carrying a water bottle that is filled up every now and then. Tackle electrolyte loss from sweating at the same time by supplementing your water with electrolytes (available from retailers like Walmart and Amazon). While one of the more basic procedures to take, it can also be one of the most impactful ones and is something that everyone should keep in mind before going out on a hot day.
The third tip will be regarding the issues of UV rays. While it can be a hassle to apply, sunscreen is one of the most reliable ways to ensure skin stays healthy and young as you take on sun exposure. Applying and reapplying sunscreen for just a few minutes before a person goes out can save years of your life. When buying sunscreen, it’s further important to pay attention as to what kind you purchase as the NBC recommends a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, which will block around 97% of UV rays. When applying sunscreen, make sure to cover any parts of the skin that might be exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, legs and arms, and reapply according to the time intervals on the label. If sunscreen cannot be used or purchased, then generally lowering the amount of sun exposure received with hats and other apparel is the next best thing.
Finally, keep nasty ticks off your body by wearing light-coloured, fuller coverage clothes; wearing close-toed shoes; and keeping to the sidewalks and roads. Keep a tweezer in your bags to be prepared to remove ticks; remove them by grasping their head as close to your skin as possible and slowly pulling it straight out with no twisting or squeezing. After extraction, clean the bitten area and report in for a checkup, if possible. Full body tick checks and the above prevention techniques will guarantee your outdoor summer to be less parasite and more fun.
While these problems might all seem scary, as shown by the tips their solutions are relatively simple. By making sure you pay careful attention to the kind of exposure and risks taken during the summer months you will be able to live a safer, happier life. Remember, being safe does not mean there is no opportunity for fun. Now, make sure you stay protected, hydrated, and most importantly happy with what kind of things you want to do during the summer!
British Columbia Coroners Service. (2012, June 1). Extreme Heat and Human Mortality: A Review of Heat-Related Deaths in B.C. in Summer 2021. Government of British Columbia. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/death-review-panel/extreme_heat_death_review_panel_report.pdf
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