The Most Common Summer Travel Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)5 min read
When summer comes around, many of us will head outside to enjoy the sunshine with swimming, boating, BBQing, hiking and more. But summer activities come with unique risks. Fortunately, planning for those risks can help mitigate them—especially if you’re traveling abroad. Let’s take a look at the top summer travel injuries and discuss what you can do to prevent them.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Naturally, one of the biggest risks during the hot summer months is overheating. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen when your body loses too much water in high temperatures, resulting in dehydration and symptoms like dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, headache and a weak and rapid pulse. Heat exhaustion is serious and it’s important to prevent it from turning into heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.
Prevent this from happening by limiting activity levels when temperatures outside are too high, and be sure to drink plenty of water and sports drinks. In addition, wear loose-fitting clothing that allows your body to release sweat and cool you off naturally.
If you think you’re experiencing heat exhaustion, move to a cool place and rest while rehydrating. If you begin to experience confusion, unconsciousness or your symptoms don’t improve within an hour, seek immediate medical attention.
Sunburns—one of the most common summer ailments— can be serious, especially in destinations that have high elevations, low latitudes or are surrounded by water. A severe sunburn can result in blistered skin, headaches, nausea and fatigue. It’s not just your skin you need to worry about either. Without proper eye protection, your eyes can also get sunburnt.
To prevent sunburn, make sure to frequently apply sunscreen while spending time outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover your skin if you’re spending multiple hours in the sun. Protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses. Be mindful that even covered areas of the body can burn when wearing loose-weave fabrics and burns can happen even in cloudy weather.
If you develop a sunburn, aloe vera and cool showers/baths can help soothe the skin. Drinking plenty of water is important and, if the skin blisters, allow them to heal without popping them to prevent infection. Ibuprofen can help reduce swelling and ease pain caused by sunburns.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death by accidental injury for children aged 1-4 (after car accidents). When young children are around water, it’s vital that they have a designated adult to keep an eye on them. You may think kids are safe with plenty of adults around but a child can fall into the water unnoticed and drown in under 30 seconds.
To prevent accidental drowning or injury, take turns as adults supervising children near water or have one adult responsible for watching one child at all times. In addition, be sure to wear a life jacket when participating in all water sports or while boating, especially for anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer.
During the summer months, plenty of people take to the water on all kinds of boats and watercrafts. However, boating injuries are some of the most common accidents. These can occur by slipping and falling on wet boats, colliding with another watercraft and hitting the wake from other boats.
Some of the ways you can prevent injuries while boating include:
- Make sure you have a life jacket for everyone on board
- Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Maintain safe speeds at all times
- Have a well-stocked first-aid kit and fire extinguisher handy
- Keep an eye on weather conditions and don’t go out if there’s a chance of lightning or strong storms
- Never run on the dock or the deck of a boat
Ticks and Mosquitoes
Some of the worst summer injuries can come from the smallest offenders—ticks and mosquitoes. When spending time outdoors where ticks are present, especially during hiking and camping trips, keep the body as covered as possible and inspect your body often for ticks, including your scalp. Ticks carry many diseases that can have horrible effects on humans, namely Lyme disease. If you develop a bulls-eye rash anywhere on your body after being in tick-infested areas, see a doctor immediately.
If you do get bitten by a tick, remove it as promptly as possible using tweezers and save the tick in the freezer in case your doctor needs to see it. Clean the area and be mindful of any symptoms like heart palpitations, nausea or flu-like symptoms. If any of these develop, contact your doctor immediately.
Mosquitos are the deadliest animal to humans around the world. Malaria and Dengue Fever are among the most common mosquito-borne illnesses, but you can also develop Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus and more. If you’re traveling during the summer months to areas with mosquitos, particularly in Malaria-prone countries, be sure to protect yourself as much as possible from getting bitten. Cover your body as much as possible, use a strong DEET-based bug repellent and sleep under mosquito nets. If you develop a fever or other symptoms after being in a Malaria region, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Sprains and Burns
Whether you’re grilling burgers, playing football or taking a backpacking trip, simple burns, cuts, sprains and fractures are some of the most common summer injuries. When participating in any active games or sports, be sure to warm up your body and wear proper footwear at all times. If you experience a twisted ankle or another strained joint, be sure to rest and ice the area and monitor for more serious symptoms. If you’re unable to move the joint, or pain and swelling don’t subside with time, you may have a fracture and should seek medical attention.
Burns are also a common summer injury from grills and campfires alike. To prevent burns, be sure to watch children around hot flames at all times, never spray lighter fluid on already-lit coals and use proper hand coverings and utensils while grilling.
Summer is for having fun and enjoying the warm weather—at home or abroad. Taking a few simple precautions can often prevent the most common summer injuries from ruining a vacation.