Some people say that summertime is the best time of the year, and who am I to argue? The weather is amazing, the sun is shining, and time away from work is a given as the open road, the sun-drenched beach, and a sparkling pool all seemingly call out to you to let go of your mundane chores and enjoy the day. However, under the guise of worry-free fun, summertime activities pose dangers few people realize. From minor annoyances to serious injuries and even death. If one doesn’t take precautions and know the risks associated with “harmless” summertime activities, a day filled with excitement could end in a lifetime of sorrow and regret. Don’t fall into the latter category, know the dangers, and avoid them at all costs.
BEWARE THE BEACH
The beach is a place to escape your daily routine and stress and enjoy nature under the shining sun, but it’s not all about soaking in the water and soaking up the sun. Dangers come from the land, sea, and air, and if you’re not prepared, your day at the beach could very well be your last. The sun can give you a glistening tan, but it can also burn your skin in the short term, and the longer term, give you skin cancer if you don’t take precautions. Sunblock is an absolute must and needs re-applied liberally many times a day, even if there’s a haze from overhead cloud cover.
The heat generated at the beach can cause dehydration and sunstroke if you don’t drink water on a constant basis and seek (air-conditioned) shelter if the temperature rises significantly throughout the day. The water may provide a respite from the heat, but beware, riptides can not only pull a strong swimmer underwater but also “drag” weaker swimmers or children far from their initial area and away from supervision. Strong waves during high tide can pummel a person repeatedly and knock them down with great enough force to force their bodies to scrape the sand (and rocks or shells) below the water. Finally, ocean creatures can be another unforeseen problem as jellyfish, washed ashore, can still sting if touched. Sand fleas can bite continuously, turning your legs into pimpled, itchy masses. Sharks, barracuda, and other dangerous fish can become interested in you and sample on your flesh.
There’s nothing like swinging across the surface of a pond on a rope and plunging into the cool water with your friends. However, stagnant ponds host a plethora of dangers few people perceive until it’s too late. First, jumping into a pond blindly can cause you to either land on jagged rocks and injure yourself, or if diving, go headfirst off a pier into too-shallow water and face paralysis. Additionally, jumping into shallow water with mucky mud just under the surface can cause your feet and legs to stick into the soil and get locked in place. If it’s just over your head, death by drowning is a genuine possibility. Second, stagnant water offers its problems.
Non-moving water can be the home of numerous pathogens, including bacteria like Cyanobacteria, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella, viruses like rotavirus, and many types of molds and fungi. Going larger, leeches can attach to your skin, which is creepy in itself, but their attachment points can let in bacteria found in the water in which they live (and you’re swimming in) and turn your minor bites into a significant problem. In an entirely worst-case scenario, the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, may be in the pond where you swim, and once it’s in your sinus cavity, it’s probably lights out for you within a week.
ON THE ROAD
Perhaps the water is not your speed, and you prefer to stay on terra firma. You’re not out of the woods when it comes to trouble because the open road and tree-filled forests can dish out plenty of pain and punishment. Hiking is a great way to return to nature, but beware, denizens of nature may pay you a visit. Biting insects, venomous snakes, and four-legged beasts inhabit the woods; your flesh can be teeth-sinking tasty to them. Although insect bites can become bothersome on their own, too many bites at once can cause skin irritations like red, blotchy skin, constant itchy, and if the skin is broken by too much scratching, then bacteria can infect the bite location.
If it’s bees that are pissed off, then anaphylaxis can occur from even one bee sting for those who are allergic, and hospitalization for you from multiple stings if you are not. Additionally, snake bites can be fatal if you don’t get to the hospital for antivenom. Large terrestrial animals like bears, mountain lions, and wolves can tear you apart before you have a chance to run. Bicycling, rollerblading, and skateboarding are excellent summer pastimes. However, without wearing safety equipment, the risk dramatically increases for sprains, bone breaks, skin abrasions, and concussions. Motor vehicles on the road, debris in the street, and just risk-taking by yourself by trying to perform some crazy stunts can land you quickly in the hospital.
TAKE YOUR PRECAUTIONS
Although all the aforementioned information may sound like doom and gloom, and the only way to avoid those hazards is to stay inside your home, that’s not entirely true. Doing your homework long before the summer begins will help you avoid potential dangers. Learn about the risks involved with your preferred activities, buy the gear or equipment that will help protect you from certain situations, don’t take unnecessary risks, and most of all, use common sense when a decision you’re debating may be questionable. Summer has begun, be safe and enjoy many more summertime activities for years to come.