Nothing says summer in North Texas quite like the blazing hot sun, barbeque sauce dripping from your chin and a holiday get-together. Summer can be a time to reconnect with family, friends and nature, but some of the season's most enjoyable activities pose hidden risks. Avoiding these summer holiday health hazards takes a bit of planning, but a safe and happy time for everyone is worth the preparation.
Follow our safety tips to keep the good times rocking and rolling all summer long.
Burns and other injuries from fireworks.
Would you hand a child a blowtorch? Of course you wouldn’t—those things burn at 2,000°F. But sparklers can be every bit as hot, burning between 1,200° and 2,000°F. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, during the month around the July Fourth holiday, an average of 280 people go to the ER every day with fireworks-related injuries … more than 53% with burns. In 2017, of the 12,900 fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms, 1,200 were caused by sparklers.
Sunburns and skin cancer.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are the No. 1 cause of skin cancer—by far the most common type of cancer. Many people mistakenly think a high-SPF sunscreen is all they need to minimize damage from the sun’s harmful rays. But SPF only provides protection against UVB rays—the ones that burn your skin. UVA rays—which penetrate the skin more deeply and cause lines, wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer—require broad-spectrum protection.
Look for one that has an SPF of at least 30 and apply it liberally and often according to the American Academy of Dermatology’s guidelines.
Is barbecuing an art or a science? Maybe a little bit of both. But apparently, there is an actual science to testing the heat of a grill with your hand. According to Weber: Place your flat palm 5 inches above the grill (the height of your favorite canned beverage) and count the number of seconds before you feel the urge to yank your hand away. Always pull your hand away before it hurts and be sure that nothing flammable, such as a sleeve, is dangling from your arm.
- 2 to 4 seconds is HIGH heat (450 to 550°F)
- 5 to 7 seconds is MEDIUM heat (350° to 450°F)
- 8 to 10 seconds is LOW heat (250° to 350°F)
According to the American Red Cross, there is no such thing as dry drowning or "secondary drowning." They, the World Health Organization and the CDC discourage the use of these terms. Regardless of what it's called, we know that accidents and injuries in and around the pool can be devastating to families. Here are the only things that work to prevent them, says the Red Cross.
- Swim lessons
- Life jacket usage
- 4-sided pool fencing
- Swimming in areas with a lifeguard
- Adequate supervision for children and adolescents by people who can perform
- A safe rescue
Whether children display coughing, choking, breathing problems or other health issues during or long after swimming, call 911 or head to the nearest ER if symptoms don’t resolve quickly.
Alcohol, dehydration and heat-related illness.
In the spirit of summer, you might feel inclined to sip a cocktail or two, but overdoing the booze can have dangerous consequences. Drinking can increase your risk for swimming-, boating- and driving-related injury and death. Drinking in the heat increases your likelihood of dehydration. To reduce your risk, avoid the bar or alternate alcoholic beverages with water.
Non-drinkers (including minors) need to stay hydrated, too. Without adequate hydration, our bodies can't carry out their normal functions, and in severe cases, too little water can lead to heat stroke or even death. Wearing light-colored and loose-fitting clothing and finding a spot in the shade can help prevent dehydration and heat-related illness. Be especially cautious if you're going to be out in the midday sun; don't overexert yourself and take frequent breaks.
“Deadliest day” accidents and injuries.
Alcohol, motor vehicle crashes, boating accidents, drownings, heatstroke, burns, food poisoning, explosions. It’s not a Bruce Willis movie—it’s the Fourth of July in America, also known as the deadliest day of the year.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more people are killed in motor vehicle crashes on Independence Day than any other day of the year. If you must drive during the holiday, keep in mind the most dangerous time to be on the road is from 6 p.m. on July 3 to midnight on July 5. Arrive alive by not drinking while driving, buckling up and avoiding distracted driving.
Always call 911 if you think someone is having a life-threatening medical emergency.
For less severe accidents, injuries and illness, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.