What Summertime Risks Should I Avoid?

I wrote a piece about this topic for a client and decided to see if I could turn it into a listicle type piece.

Lots of people will tell you to be safe, unless you want to spend your summer on a couch nursing a sprained ankle or broken arm. And being safe is outside. But what are some other summertime risks?

There are other summer risks that could ruin your summer. Watch out for these.

Food poisoning.  

Although food poisoning can happen at other times (check the temperature of the turkey), it is more likely to happen in the summer.  The CDC reports that over 40 million people become ill from a foodborne illness. Most people don’t require immediate medical care from food poisoning, but eating spoiled food can cause you to be sidelined for several days.

The CDC recommends four simple steps–clean, separate, cook, and chill.  Perishable food should be chilled within an hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees.  And if you get sick, don’t forget to hydrate yourself.

Water-borne conditions.   

Bacteria love water, and water loves hosting bacteria.  Our love for water activities sometimes makes us forget that not all water is treated equally. Make sure hot tubs and swimming pools are properly treated.  Untreated water can host bacteria that might cause infections, viral illnesses, and gastrointestinal problems.

Lakes and ponds are hosts to bacteria.  If you swim in a pond, follow these tips: don’t drink the water, shower afterwards, and avoid swimming after heavy rainfalls.

Summer colds.  

You read that right.  Even though we think of colds as fall and winter illnesses, the rhinovirus that causes colds can still spread them in hot weather.  You will know that you have a summer cold and not an allergy when you also have a fever and when the symptoms arrive at different times.  

Treat a summer cold just like a winter cold–with plenty of rest, fluids, and cold care remedies that work for you.


In a survey by the National Headache Foundation, headache sufferers consider summer to be the worst time for headaches.  Heat and dehydration can cause headaches, but so can sun glare.

Keeping yourself hydrated and wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses when outside are good preventative measures.  And consider drinking sports drinks to replenish the all-important electrolytes.


Heatstroke is one of the most serious summertime illnesses.  It is caused when the body’s core temperature rises above 104 degrees.  If your breathing is suddenly getting rapid, your heart is racing, or you are feeling confused or agitated suddenly, you could be suffering from heatstroke.  

If you think someone might be suffering from heatstroke, get immediate medical help.  Take action right away–get them inside or in the shade, remove excess clothing, and cool them with water, wet towels on their head and groin, or a fan.

Heat Rash.  

A heat rash happens when perspiration gets blocked under the skin.  This is caused by blocked sweat ducts. It is often found on skin that is covered by clothing. It causes some discomfort and itchiness, but it usually goes away after a couple of days.  If it doesn’t clear up or signs of infection appear, call the doctor.


Everyone has heard of this one. Sunburn is caused by the ultraviolet rays from the sun that damages the DNA in your skin. If the damage builds up over time, the cells that repair the skin can grow out of control, leading to skin cancer.  

Suntan lotion won’t help a sunburn, so put it on before you head out.

Do the best to avoid these summer illnesses and you will have a summer to enjoy!

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