Summer health dangers you need to be prepared for

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In summer, you're probably more than eager to get outdoors and soak up as much sun as you can. Your schedule might start filling up with barbecues, weekend trips with the family and plans to lounge in the park or at the beach. But just like you need to prepare your beach bag with all the essentials like towels and sunscreen, you also need to prepare yourself and your family for the dangers being outside in summer could bring.

Facts are facts: You see a lot more bugs and spend a lot more time in bacteria-infested water during these warmer months. Don't let these health dangers stop you from having fun. But be prepared for these dangers you might encounter this season!

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Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot doesn't just happen to athletes. When feet come into contact with fungus, the skin of the foot may become infected. Dark, moist areas are prime real estate for fungi to grow; repeatedly wearing wet shoes or socks can put you at risk. If someone else with athlete's foot walks barefoot in a locker room, the infection can also spread. Make sure to wash your feet often to prevent the condition and keep your shoes and socks clean.

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Bacteria at water parks

Water parks can be a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. If you're not careful, exposure to these germs can make you or your family very sick. Norovirus, fungal infections and other illness can occur. To prevent these ailments, be sure to steer clear from the water if you're sick, avoid swallowing pool water, keep cuts from being exposed to pool water and shower immediately after you leave.

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Bees

In summertime, bees may be out and about more than usual. If you run into them during your summer adventures, you could get stung. When a bee stings, it leaves behind a toxin that causes the swelling, redness and pain you normally associate with these stings. Allergies can make bee stings even more severe.

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Bicycle injuries

Biking can be a great way to get some exercise without stepping foot in a gym, but make sure you practice bicycle safety. Know the traffic laws for bicycles and wear the proper safety gear. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 800 bicyclists killed on the road in 2017.

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Boating accidents

Misuse of equipment, overestimating swimming ability and weather-related factors can all cause accidents for those spending time on boats during the summer. Alcohol can also muck the waters when it comes to boat safety.

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Car crashes

Summer is road trip season, which means some people are going to be on the roads in rental cars that they're not used to driving. People take more weekend trips and are just generally out and about more often due to nice weather. Car crashes are always a risk, but make sure to be extra careful when spending time outdoors and when driving in rainy weather.

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Dehydration

It's common to forget to drink enough water any time of year - and that's bad enough. But in the summer months, dehydration can become extreme and genuinely dangerous. Look out for the early signs of dehydration so you know to take steps to hydrate effectively. Sip on water or another hydrating beverage throughout the day.

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Drowning

Drowning isn't as rare as you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings on average each year from 2005 to 2014. Even near-drowning incidents can be costly, as they may cause brain injury or long-term disabilities. Follow water safety advice from lifeguards everywhere you go and do what you can to keep yourself and children out of harm's way when it comes to spending time in the water.

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Eye damage

Go ahead and buy yourself a nice new pair of sunglasses - it's actually important for your health! UV rays can damage your eyesight. Invest in a pair of shades with UV protection or, if you're planning on spending a lot of time outside, look for polarized lenses.

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Fireworks-related injuries

Fireworks can create some incredible displays, but they can also be dangerous, especially when people set them off near their own homes. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 280 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries each day during the month of Independence Day. Make sure to read up on the proper precautions to prevent injuries, as they can be serious. Burns are the most common injury, but damage to the eyes and ears may also occur.

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Food poisoning

Summer is prime time for barbecues and picnics. But don't leave your favorite summer sides out in the sun for too long. Exposure to higher temperatures can put food at risk for growing foodborne bacteria. If you leave food out too long, you could get sick after eating it. Instead, take steps to avoid food poisoning and make sure you know how long your favorite perishable foods actually last.

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Grilling injuries

Messing up a recipe isn't the only risk you take when you decide to grill this summer. According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 10,200 home fires involve grills, hibachis or barbecues each year. And those weren't the only causes of injury - 19,000 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills each year, on average. Make sure to grill safely by keeping the grill far away from flammable objects, keeping your distance from the flame and cleaning your grill when necessary.

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Heat stroke

Heat stroke is most common in the summer months; if you plan on spending time outdoors, you're going to want to know the symptoms to watch out for. Heat stroke occurs when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Someone with heat stroke may experience confusion, altered speech, nausea, vomiting, rapid and shallow breathing, headache and increased heart rate. If you or someone near you experiences a few or all of these symptoms, call 911. This condition requires emergency medical treatment.

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Jellyfish stings

If you plan on spending time on any tropical beaches this summer, you might see a jellyfish or two on the sand. Jellyfish can lurk in the ocean water as well, creeping up on you where you can't see them. Jellyfish stings can be seriously painful; when they strike, their tentacles inject venom into the skin from thousands of microscopic barbed stingers. If you are stung, exit the water immediately and seek medical attention. Remove the barbs with a credit card or other plastic object and rinse the affected area as soon as you can. You can use ocean water to rinse, or vinegar if you have some available. Portuguese man o' wars, though different from jellyfish, pose a similar threat. Watch out for them on the sand. 

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Poison ivy

Poison ivy is an allergic reaction that occurs when skin comes into contact with the poison ivy plant. Symptoms include a rash, swelling and severe itching. Once you have poison ivy, all you can really do is wait it out. So the best way to prepare for this summer hazard is to know what the plant looks like and do your best to avoid coming into contact with it. You may also want to avoid walking through tall grass.

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Riptides and currents

No matter how confident of a swimmer you are, currents can be dangerous. Not only can ocean conditions take you by surprise, but they can also be quite strong. Make sure to pay attention to warning signs posted on the beach and avoid swimming during dangerous conditions. If you do get caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore to escape it. Don't try to fight the current - that can get you caught even further.

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Skin cancer

Skin cancer is perhaps one of the most prevalent summer health dangers, but it doesn't happen right away and can be easy to miss. Exposure to the sun without wearing sunscreen can increase your risk of skin cancer later on. If you notice an unusual mole or mark on your skin that doesn't go away, make sure to consult your doctor.

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Sunburn

You might shrug off wearing sunscreen, but you really need to be wearing it every day. Especially during summer when you're spending more time outdoors and the hours of sunlight are longer, reapply layers throughout the day. Sunburns can be serious, even resulting in blistering that requires medical attention. Not to mention the long-term effects of sun exposure on your skin. If you do get sunburnt, here are some mistakes to avoid in caring for it and some tactics to help it heal faster.

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Swimmer's ear

You don't have to be a competitive swimmer to catch swimmer's ear. You can get this condition, which is an infection of the outer ear canal, from any number of circumstances. For instance, using a cotton swab to clean your ears or even just taking a shower could result in swimmer's ear. Treating the infection is usually simple and just requires ear drops. But you want to catch it early so as to avoid discomfort. Symptoms include itching of the ear canal, redness, swelling and fluid drainage at first, which is then followed by more intense pain.

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Ticks

Ticks become more active during the warmer months, and people also often spend more time outside. These bugs can carry Lyme disease, making them more dangerous than other pests you might encounter. Use bug spray and know the signs of an infected bite before you go outside. Get familiar with what tick bites look like and, while you're at it, familiarize yourself with these bites and rashes to look out for during summertime.

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