Summertime and the livin is easy;
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high …
George Gershwin wrote these lyrics for the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.”They seem fitting to many people, as summertime is seen as a time to kick back, relax and enjoy a slower pace.
While summertime is a season to live easy, there are some inherent dangers to summer that can halt plans of fun in the sun. From skin cancer to insect bites, summertime can be dangerous for those who don’t play it safe.
With a greater number of people out and about enjoying the warm weather, the risk for accidents and injuries increases. The National Safe Kids Campaign says statistics indicate children will be rushed to emergency rooms around the country nearly three million times this summer. Higher rates of drowning, motor vehicle accidents and bicycle injuries occur this time of year.
There are a number of potential summertime hazards men, women and children can safeguard themselves against.
While skin cancer and sunburn are the most obvious dangers from the sun, there are other hazards as well. Failure to protect the eyes from UV sun exposure can result in photokeratitis, irreversible sunburn of the cornea. While it may cause temporary vision loss, recurrent incidences of photokeratitis can lead to permanent vision loss as well.
Individuals who are exposed to sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. without UV protection may become sunburned, increasing their risk for skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than one million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer and about 9,500 people will die from it.
Dehydration and heat stroke are other potential hazards. Drinking plenty of water and other hydrating fluids (not diuretics like alcohol) can keep the body cool and refreshed. Headaches, acting angrily, dizziness, and excessive sweating or cessation of sweating may be signs of a serious sun-related health condition.
The Maryland CARES Program, which educates health care professionals and the public about pediatric care and safety, offers that drowning incidents increase 100 percent over the summer months. It takes only inches of water to drown a person, especially a young child. Every year the news broadcasts stories of children who fell into backyard pools or adults swept out to sea by choppy waves.
People should never take bodies of water for granted. Swimming only where there is a certified lifeguard can make water recreation safer. Individuals should follow the guidelines posted regarding swimming and avoid oceans when storms are brewing because of rip tides and undertows.
Children should always be carefully monitored around water. Self-latching gates around pools can help deter entry as well as safety covers or retractable pool ladders. Remember, pool floats and water wings (swimmies) should not be used as a substitute for a life vest.
Just as many people come out of hibernation when the weather warms, so do animals and insect life.
Tick bites are common when the weather is warm. Experts say that the months of May, June and July are peak times for exposure to ticks, which may carry Lyme Disease or another dangerous parasite. Ticks are small and can be difficult to spot. People can do a tick check after coming in from outside, paying careful attention to the areas to which ticks tend to migrate:In ears, in and around the hair, under the arms, behind the knees, around the waist, and between the legs.
Mosquitoes, biting flies, bees, wasps, and other insects are in full force. Using an insect repellent can help keep them at bay and avoid bites.
In addition to insects, animals like bats, squirrels, raccoons and bears are more active in the warm weather. During the time of dawn and dusk deer may be on the prowl for food before the heat of day. People can pay attention to wildlife when driving, hiking or bicycling to avoid altercations.
Most individuals can enjoy the summer if they make safety a priority when planning recreational activities.