The summer months are a busy time for trauma centers, mostly because people are more active and kids are occasionally left unsupervised. Injuries run the gamut from pool accidents to burns—and then there are incidents you would never even think of. Warm weather brings people outside, but occasionally what they do outside brings them into ER.
Some of the dangers on our list will almost certainly happen to you this summer (hello, sun burn), while others will likely never happen in your whole life (hello, shark attack), but these are the dangers you should know about, even if only to satisfy your curiosity. We outlined 10 summer dangers and included some resources for dealing with them, hopefully your summer will be danger-free, but in the event it’s not, read on.
A top summer danger is one that most people don’t even consider—the heat. Extreme heat, especially over time, can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While heat cramps and heat exhaustion can be dangerous, heat stroke can be fatal. Know the signs and how to prevent heat-related health problems—take a look at our guide for beating the heat this summer.
Another big summer danger is also a favorite part of the summer season. Basking in the sun’s rays may be one of your favorite things about summer, but it can also leave you badly burned. Each summer hospitals treat sun poisoning and burns that can result in permanent skin damage. Don’t be one of those people, choose a quality sunscreen, reapply often and learn some things you didn’t know about sun protection.
Who actually gets struck by lightning, right? Actually an average of 49 people die each year in the U.S. after being struck, according to the National Weather Service, and for every one death there are nine other people who have varying degrees of injury as a result of being struck, many of those injuries turn into lifelong disabilities. It’s a big problem and despite warnings, people think it won’t happen to them. Remember the old adage, “when thunder roars, go indoors,” and be alert, especially in these 10 lightning-prone states.
Bears, the big predators of the woods, are actually less of a threat to humans than you might think. It’s tough to find statistics on the number of bear attacks per year, but when it comes to fatalities, there are an average of three fatalities per year. So, in the event that you stumble into a hostile bear’s turf on your next hike, what should you do? Consult our guide on surviving bear attacks.
Ticks and mosquitoes certainly rank among the worst summer pests and they’re not just annoying—they can be dangerous too. Both types of bugs have the ability to carry and transmit disease. How do you stay safe? Read up on our complete guide to ticks and Lyme disease and our complete guide to mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.
If you have a pit in your stomach when you see those dauntingly large rides at an amusement park, you’re not the only one—and your fear may be a little bit justified. Though it’s tough to get an exact number of injuries per year, some estimates find amusement park injuries are in the thousands, though a small percentage of those require hospitalization. Unsurprisingly, most of these injuries occur in the summer. Your odds of being injured may be slim, but experts say there should be better oversight and tracking of incidents to make these parks safer.
Drowning is the third leading cause of death from unintentional injury worldwide, according to the CDC, and the risk is higher in the summer. Though many of the victims are children, many adults drown each year too. Keep a close eye on little ones, put a high fence around outdoor pools, always ensure everyone on a boat is wearing a life vest and be mindful of cold water, as it can cause shock in even the strongest swimmers. Realize that anyone can drown and become familiar with water safety measures.
Rip currents, often mistakenly called rip tides, are thin channels of water in the ocean moving quickly away from the shore and they cause the death of an estimated 100 people annually, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s because the water in these channels can be moving at speeds up to eight feet per second, which is so powerful that even an Olympic swimmer wouldn’t be able to swim directly back to shore—and you shouldn’t try to either. Before your next beach trip, take a look at our guide on surviving a rip current.
Let’s get this out of the way: shark attacks are extremely rare. The odds that you’ll be attacked by a shark are one in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. That said, if you live on the coast or plan to visit the ocean this summer, the fear of an attack is a danger that lingers in the back of your mind. Before you wade out into the waves, check out our full guide on avoiding and surviving a shark attack.
Another unlikely scenario, but one that is definitely on everyone’s mind during summer hikes, is being bitten by a poisonous snake. According to the Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation at the University of Florida, between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by snakes in the U.S. each year and, of those who are bitten, only five or six people die from those injuries. This means that your risk of getting bit by a snake and then dying is close to zero, but you should still know what to do in the event of a bite. Read up on what you should (and shouldn’t) do if you get bit by a venomous snake.