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Safety tips for the 101 critical days of summer

Image of Food on a grill, a sparkler, and a child in a swimming pool. The Army Public Health Center encourages everyone to follow a few critical summer safety tips around their home as they soak up the sun, enjoy the outdoors, cool off in the pool, and master their grilling techniques (Photo by: U.S. Army Public Health Center photo illustration by Graham Snodgrass).

As the restrictions of COVID-19 begin to relax, there will be an increase in families and friends out enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, swimming, boating, playing, and traveling.

"Please be aware of the risks associated with your summer activities and take steps to mitigate that risk," said Catherine Hall, chief of Occupational Safety for the Defense Health Agency. "Always have a well-thought-out plan; that old adage of 'fail to plan, plan to fail' has merit."

Harris added, "Success does not always happen by accident, but accidents do happen due to that failure to have a plan."

The 101 Critical Days of Summer begin on Memorial Day weekend and end after Labor Day. With all those fun summer activities, the following safety tips are offered to make your vacation journey a safe and happy one.

Safety outdoors

  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
  • Always carry water with you and drink frequently.
  • If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  • Always wear sunscreen outside and frequently reapply.
  • Hats and sunglasses are a good idea each time you go outside.
  • Know your own limits when it comes to activity.
  • Watch for signs of heat strain and heat stroke. These include:
    1. Painful muscle spasms usually in the legs or abdomen
    2. No sweating
    3. Goosebumps
    4. Headache
    5. Clamminess, pale skin
    6. Dizziness or disorientation
  • Try to stay out of the sun when it is at its height, especially between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.
  • If bugs are a problem, use a bug spray made with DEET or a naturally derived product. Mosquitoes can cause Zika and West Nile infection and disease
  • If ticks are a problem, wear long pants and long sleeves and use bug spray
  • Check for ticks when you remove your clothes. Ticks can cause a number of diseases, and deer ticks, which cause Lyme disease, are tiny.
  • If you find a circular red spot like a bullseye on your skin after being outdoors, you may have been exposed to deer ticks. Check with your health care provider as soon as possible.

Over the span of the summer, the Military Health System will run a series of listicles covering a variety of safety areas focused on summer activities, including sun, swimming, boating, fireworks, camping, bicycling, driving, and food.

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As pleasant summer weather ramps up, you might be ready to head outside and fire up your grill. Before you do, make sure you’re following proper grilling safety guidelines. According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 19,000 people on average are injured in a grilling accident each year. Don’t be part of the statistics this year!

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more children (1 in 4) die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. For children between the ages of 1-14, drowning is the second cause of unintentional injury death, after motor vehicle crashes. Don’t be a statistic!

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Heat illnesses and injuries are no fun! What is heat-related illness? Heat-related illness, or hyperthermia, is a condition resulting from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature. The evaporation of sweat is the normal way to remove body heat, but, when the humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as quickly. This, in turn, prevents the body from releasing heat quickly. Prompt treatment of heat-related illnesses with aggressive fluid replacement and cooling of core body temperature is critical to reducing illness and preventing death. Be safe when taking part in outside activities and remember to hydrate!

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At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When you’re behind the wheel of a car – whether alone or with passengers – driving safely should always be your top concern. We’re more distracted than ever, so it’s crucial to know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time you’re on the road.

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Are you at higher risk for heat-related illness? Heat-related health problems are preventable, but some factors put you at increased risk for illness, such as exhaustion or heat stroke. Follow these tips.

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Last Updated: January 24, 2023
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