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The Top 7 Summer Health Hazards

Beach days and BBQ dinners are great, but here's what you need to know to stay safe in summer, too.
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6. Fireworks Safety

You start to hear the booms, pops, and snaps in mid-June, long before Independence Day arrives. Many people love fireworks, but fireworks don't necessarily love them back. Nearly 9,000 individuals were injured by fireworks in 2009, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and two were killed. "We see pretty significant hand and eye injuries from fireworks every summer," Stanton says. The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professionally sponsored display. At least six states ban all consumer fireworks, and several more allow them only with limitations. But if you can buy fireworks legally and want to set off a few at home, take these precautions:

  • Keep a hose or fire extinguisher handy to put out small fires.
  • Keep  children away from fireworks. "Everybody loves to give sparklers to kids, but they burn very hot and can cause significant eye injuries," Stanton says. In fact, a sparkler can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees -- hot enough to melt some types of metals. "They can go off quickly and cause burns or just explode in your hand."

To care for a fireworks burn, wrap it in a clean towel or T-shirt saturated with cool water and get to an emergency room to have the injury checked out.

7. Summertime Stings

You're out for a pleasant day of working in the yard and you dig up a hornet's nest -- literally. For most people, a bee or wasp sting is just painful, but for a few, it can be life-threatening.  You may not know you're one of them until after you've been stung -- sometimes more than once. Three in 100 adults in the United States -- or nearly 7 million people -- have life-threatening allergies to insect stings, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

To stay free of bees (and other stinging insects, including mosquitoes) when outdoors, avoid heavy perfumes and scents (especially florals), wear light-colored clothing with no floral patterns (stinging insects are attracted to dark colors and flowers), and guard food and sugary drinks like sodas. Most people who get stung will just have pain, tenderness, itchiness, and swelling at the sting site. But see a doctor or go to the ER immediately when you have:

  • Hives, itchiness, and swelling over large areas of your body
  • Tightness in the chest or trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue or face
  • Dizziness or feeling you will pass out

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