Top 10 Summer Health Risks

Roaring campfires, days on the lake, and backyard barbecues are classic summertime activities. For many, summer wouldn’t be complete without these summer classics, but these activities aren’t without risk. Knowing common summer health risks can help you and your family take the right steps to keep your summer safe and fun.

Some of the things that make summer so much fun — sunshine, swimming, and time spent outdoors — also present some of the biggest health risks. Click To Tweet

Don’t let a health emergency ruin your summer fun. Here are the top 10 summer health risks to avoid.


Sunburn is painful and unpleasant, and excessive exposure to UV radiation increases your risk for skin cancer.

  • Apply a full-spectrum sunscreen before heading outdoors.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants that provide additional protection from UV radiation.
  • Wear hats, sunglasses, and lip balm with SPF for additional protection from sunburns.


Are you drinking enough water? Dehydration can be dangerous, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. It’s especially important to drink water when its hot outside and when you’re being physically active.


Plants thrive during the summer, especially in Arkansas. Poison ivy and poison oak are both native to Arkansas and can cause dermatitis, or a rash. Some people have mild reactions to these plants, while others may have severe reactions that require hospitalization.

Heat rashes are another type of rash that can occur during the summer. Heat rash occurs when the sweat ducts are blocked, and sweat gets trapped beneath the skin. These rashes typically go away without the need for medical care.

Heat-related illnesses

600 people die in the United States each year because of extreme heat. Heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be prevented, however.

  • Staying hydrated can help reduce the risk for heat-related illnesses
  • Avoid physical activity during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Stay in air-conditioned environments during extreme heat.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to heat and direct sunlight.

Food poisoning

Cookouts and picnics are perfect summertime activities, but they also create perfect conditions for food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses. Mild food poisoning doesn’t require medical attention. However, you should contact a healthcare provider if you experience severe symptoms such as blood in stool, frequent vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea that lasts more than three days.


According to the CDC, disease cases from ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016.

  • Apply insect repellent before heading outdoors, treat clothing with insect repellent such as permetherin, or do both.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to reduce exposed skin.
  • Wear light colored clothing that makes it easy to see ticks before they latch on.
  • Tucking in clothing makes it more difficult for ticks to bite.
  • Check thoroughly for ticks after spending time outdoors. The longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk for disease. For example, it typically takes 36-48 hours, or more, for a tick to transmit Lyme disease.


Drowning is a major cause of unintentional injury-related death.

  • Make sure that you and your family know how to swim.
  • Those who do not know how to swim should wear a personal flotation device.
  • Wear a life vest on boats.
  • Always supervise children near the water.
  • Never swim alone; this is true for both novice and experienced swimmers.
  • Practice safe swimming.

Recreational water illnesses

Recreational water illnesses, or RWIs may be caused by chemicals or germs in a natural or man-made body of water. The most commonly reported symptom of RWI is diarrhea, but recreational water illnesses may also cause bacterial infections such as swimmers ear, and respiratory and wound infections.


Accidental injury is a common summer health risk. People are using gas-powered mowers, boats, and ATVs. Children are injured on trampolines and slip-and-slides. Motor vehicle accidents are common, more people travel during the summer. There are more fireworks accidents during the summer than any other season, specifically around the Fourth of July.

Not making healthy choices

Sometimes people pick up bad habits during the summer: staying up late, eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol in excess, and engaging in risky behaviors. Make a point to make health decisions this summer.

Start with scheduling a wellness exam with your primary care physician. FirstCare Family Doctors has some of the best family doctors in Northwest Arkansas. Schedule an appointment with a physician today.