Stay Safe in the Summertime

Stay Safe in the Summertime

Le esto en EspañolFor many people, summer is the best time of the year. It’s filled with long days spent outside crammed full of fun activities.

But summer brings its own challenges when it comes to keeping your family healthy. Nothing puts the brakes on a good summer day like a bad sunburn. The summer heat itself can be life threatening, and water can be an enticing danger for kids.

Put plans in place to protect your family as they enjoy all summer has to offer.

Heat-Related Illness

Exposure to excessive heat can cause some illnesses and make existing health issues, like heart and respiratory diseases, worse.

Heat-related illness can cause hyperthermia. Hyperthermia happens when the body is not able to cool itself the right way because of high heat. Since the body can’t let go of heat quickly enough, it causes a rapid rise in body temperature.

Heat-linked illnesses are preventable. Yet more than 600 Americans are killed by high heat each year.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most serious heat-related illnesses.

Heat Exhaustion
Pay attention to the warnings of heat exhaustion:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Fainting or dizziness

What to Do
Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.

Heat Stroke
Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion or unconsciousness

What to Do
If you see symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 or get the person to a hospital right away. Quick treatment of heat-related illnesses is vital. Aggressive fluid replacement and cooling of core body temperature is critical to preventing death. Cool down with any methods on hand until you can get medical help.

If the weather forecast includes high heat:

  • Find air conditioning
  • Stay in the shade and skip strenuous activities
  • Wear lightweight clothing
  • Check on friends and family
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Watch for heat cramps and heat exhaustion and heat stroke symptoms

And even if it isn’t very hot outside, never leave children or pets in a car. Heatstroke in children can happen in a car when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.

UV Safety

Protect your skin from the summer sun. Wear sunscreen every day, no matter how long you plan to be outside. Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect against UVB and UVA radiation. If you are fair skinned or plan to be outdoors all day, opt for an SPF of 30 or higher.

You can also protect yourself by:

  • Staying in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wearing a broad-brimmed hat and light-colored clothing that covers up your skin (pants and long sleeves)
  • Wearing sunglasses that bock UV rays
Safe Water Play

Drowning is a serious problem. About 11 people die every day in the U.S. from accidental drowning. And drowning is a leading cause of death for children.

Take these steps to help protect yourself and your family:

  • Make sure everyone in your family learns basic water safety and how to swim.
  • Adults and children alike should always swim with a buddy.
  • Always try to swim in areas with a lifeguard.
  • Pay attention to potential water hazards where you’re swimming, including bad weather, ocean or river currents, water depth, water temperature, and underwater vegetation or animals.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs (including some prescription medicines) before or while swimming, diving or supervising swimmers.
  • Wear a life jacket when boating or fishing, even if you don’t plan to go in the water.
  • If you have a pool at your home, be sure it is properly fenced.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Protect skin with sunscreen, especially the tender skin of children.
Take Extra Care with Children Near Water

It’s especially important to look out for children around water, even the bathtub. Take these steps to help protect kids:

  • Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath, and children of all ages when swimming or playing in or around water, even if lifeguards are present.
  • When watching preschool children, provide “touch supervision.” That means you should be close enough to reach the child at all times.
  • Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
  • Teach kids to ask permission before getting in or near the water.
Sources: Extreme Heat, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022; Drowning Facts, leaving site icon CDC, 2022; Extreme Heat, leaving site icon, 2023; All About Sunscreen, leaving site icon Skin Cancer Foundation, 2022; Water Safety, leaving site icon American Red Cross; Children are Dying in Hot Cars, leaving site icon National Safety Council, 2020; Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars, leaving site icon American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020

Originally published 5/11/2020; Reviewed 2021, 2023