Summer Health Hazards Published June 9, 2021 By Greg Chadwick, Air Force Materiel Command Health & Wellness Team WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Summer’s here, and with it comes backyard barbecues, days at the beach, and time spent outdoors. Some of the things that make summer so much fun – swimming, hiking, and longer days, also present plenty of health risks. Don’t let a health emergency ruin your activities. Knowing common summer health hazards can help you and your family take the right steps to keep your summer safe and fun. Outdoor Grilling - A grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. Grills can be very hot, causing burn injuries. Check gas tank hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. Have the grill serviced by a professional before using again. Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors. The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Always make sure the gas grill lid is open before lighting. Clean grill after each use to remove grease that can start a fire. Water Related - It’s important to know how to be safe while you’re in the water, when at the pool or beach. Learn how to swim. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Stay within your swimming capabilities. Understand water currents. Natural waters have currents which are moving water. Some currents are easy to see, like waves in oceans and lakes. Other currents are difficult to see or not visible at all. Rip currents in oceans or lakes look calm on the surface but are moving fast underneath. If caught in a rip current: don’t swim against the current. Swim out of the current, then to shore. Lightning Strikes - No place outside is safe when a thunderstorm is in the area. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat. Check the weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. When thunder roars, go indoors. Stop all activities and seek shelter in a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle. To reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors, do not shower, bathe, wash dishes or have any contact with water during a thunderstorm because lightening can travel through a building’s plumbing. Avoid using electronic equipment connected to an electrical outlet when indoors during a thunderstorm. Flip-flops – Flip-flops should only be worn for short-term use, like at the beach, around swimming pools, or in showers and locker rooms at the fitness center. This flat-soled footwear offers little in the way of arch or heel support and can cause the wearer injuries including stress fractures, muscle pains, tendonitis, arch pain, and heel pain. Flip-flops offer little protection against stubbed toes, abrasions, cuts, or puncture wounds. Sandals are a better “open-air” shoe choice, because most have a sturdy sole with some arch support. Ticks – Ticks live tall grasses and weeds, wooded areas, and leaf litter. Ticks can’t jump or fly, so they just wait for an animal to brush up against whatever they’re perched on. To protect against ticks: Avoid exposure in wooded, overgrown areas. Stay in the middle of marked trails when hiking. Wear protective clothing with long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks, and shoes. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Shower soon after being outdoors. Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Chiggers – Also known as red bugs and harvest mites, chiggers are so small that they’re hard to see with the naked eye. Chiggers are found in moist, grassy areas like lawns, fields, and forests. Chigger bites produce itchy, red bumps on the skin. To protect against chiggers: Regular mowing of lawn with cutting of tall vegetation, pruning of bushes, trees, and shrubs. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, spray on both skin and clothing. Showering immediately after coming indoors to remove unattached chiggers. Lawn Mower Injuries – Before mowing, remove debris from the lawn such as rocks, sticks, or other potential flying object hazards. Always wear protective eye wear, hearing protection, and closed toe shoes while operating the mower. Fill the fuel tank before starting the engine to cut the lawn. Never refuel the mower when it is running or while the engine is hot. If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with a walk-behind rotary mower, never up and down. With a riding lawn mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it to avoid tipping over. Do not allow children to play in the vicinity of an operating mower. Never allow young children to ride with an adult on a mower. For more information on summer health hazards, visit USAFwellness.com or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team. Comprehensive information on summer health hazards can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at CDC.gov.