Summer Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Ah, Summer…

Swimming and Water Play

Under the Sun

Making S’mores over the campfire

Memorable family vacations

Exploring the Great Outdoors

Reading on the beach

Trails to explore

Ice Cream, Watermelon and Corn on the Cob

Movie nights and sleeping in

Exploding Fireworks, Patriotism and Picnics

These are some of my favorite things about Summer. Even though there is much to enjoy, it is important to be cautious of summer hazards that are specific to the season.

Summer Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Summer Hazards

Poison Ivy

Summer Hazards

Poison Oak

Summer Hazards

Poison Sumac

1-Poisonous Plants— As we spend more time outdoors, it is important to recognize potentially harmful plants. Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac have a special oil on their leaves called urushiol which can leave a terrible rash. Contact with this oil causes red itchy bumps and blisters. This oil can stick on clothing, pet fur and can spread easily. If you have come in contact with these plants, make sure to wash your clothing and bathe your pets thoroughly. If you do get a rash, try not avoid touching the rash to prevent spreading. Itching can be eased with hydrocortisone cream, Calamine lotion or Benadryl. Poison Oak and Ivy can be identified by leaflets of three. The rule of thumb is…If you see three, leave it be. Poison Sumac can have urushiol-filled black spots and leaflets of seven to thirteen.

Summer Hazards


2-Bugs, Bugs, Bugs–Bugs are out in the summertime which increases your chance of getting bitten. Although most bugs don’t cause any harm, some can carry adverse diseases. Mosquitoes have been known to carry the West Nile Virus which made 5,500 people sick and caused 243 deaths last year. Make sure when you are outdoors that you use insect repellent and avoid the early morning and twilight hours.

Summer Hazards


Ticks can carry Lyme Disease. They have flat, round abdomens and burrow their heads in your skin. They live in wooded and bushy areas. The best prevention is to check for ticks when you’ve been outside and use repellent. Tick bites look like a red bulls eye.


Summer Hazards

Black Widow

There are also poisonous spiders such as black widows. They prefer warm, dark and dry places such as a shed, the garage, in fences or wood piles. They are famous for their jet black body and red hourglass on their abdomen. They are not aggressive, but will bite if disturbed. Their venom creates havoc on your nervous system. If you have been bitten, seek immediate medical care.

If you are concerned about a specific bug bite, check with your doctor.

3–Food Safety— Summer is the time to fire up the grill and have outdoor picnics but the warm weather increases the risk for foodborne illnesses. Make sure when cooking that you follow food safety guidelines. Cook your meat thoroughly, make sure your cold food stays cold, use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked food, and don’t leave foods sitting out for longer than an hour or two.

4–Heat Stroke— When playing in the sun, you need to be aware of heat exhaustion which occurs when your internal body temperature gets too high. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, and muscle cramps. If you feel these symptoms, make sure that you drink cool water, and get where you can cool down. When heat exhaustion is left untreated it will turn into heat stroke which is life threatening and needs emergency care.

By taking precautions to avoid the typical summer hazards, you can enjoy the season and the outdoors without any problems.

Drowsy Driving Prevention

November 12-18 has been named Drowsy Driving Prevention Week by the National Sleep Foundation as a tool to educate the public about the dangers of fatigued driving. It is estimated that 100,000 crashes each year are fatigue-related and 1,550 of them are fatal.

drowsy drivingStudies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in the same impairments as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% (the legal limit). Lack of sleep causes impairment in judgement, vision, processing and reaction times.

I found an article on with some great tips on avoiding drowsy driving (see entire article here).

Warning Signs of Fatigue:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids
  • Difficulty keeping reveries or daydreams at bay
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or aggressive.

Here’s what you can do to prevent drowsy driving:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive, so be sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) the night before you go.
  • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks. It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
  • Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
  • Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
  • Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
  • Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
Not too long ago, my husband and I took a 12 hour trip and drove through the night to our destination. We used the buddy system and switched off every couple of hours. As we drove, it was interesting and heartening to see so many trailer trucks pulled off to the side of the road. There is a lot of focus on drunk-driving but it is also important to recognize the signs of fatigue and then to be smart and pull over instead of pushing through. 

A Fun Way to Reinforce Halloween Safety Tips.

Halloween Safety TipsHalloween is here! My kids are so excited to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating. Along with the fun comes the importance of safety on Halloween night. While looking for some fun activities online, I found a Halloween safety quiz that reviews important Halloween safety tips in a creative a fun way.

It’s great because first, it goes over the rules and then you play an interactive game that reinforces those rules. The quiz takes you through different scenarios and you have to decide, between two or three choices, which is the best. If you chose wrong, a screen pops up with a surprise as it reminds you of the rule. Then it lets you try again. At the end, you get a little certificate for completing the quiz. It’s a fun way for the kids learn how to be safe so that Halloween night can be a great one!

To reinforce important Halloween Safety Tips, play the quiz here. I highly recommend it!