Top Summer Health Risks to Avoid

Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the weather. But summer activities bring additional risks to your health. Be sure to be safe this summer by knowing these top 10 summer health risks. A little bit of prevention can keep your summer safe.


Skin Cancer

Woman sunning herself

David Trood / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Over five million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States. If caught early, skin cancer is usually treated easily. Skin cancer is more common in people who:

  • Have spent lots of time in the sun or have been sunburned
  • Have fair skin, hair, and eyes
  • Have a family member who has had skin cancer
  • Are over age 50

You can check yourself for skin cancer every few months, get a free skin cancer screening, wear lots of sunscreen and avoid the sun when possible.


Heat Stroke

Man sitting on bleachers wiping his forehead with a towel

Marc Romanelli / Blend Images / Getty Images

Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening. In heat stroke, the body's core temperature rises. Much like a fever, extremely high body temperatures can lead to permanent damage. Some signs of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Short, rapid breathing
  • Stopping sweating
  • A fast pulse

If someone has these signs, call 911 immediately.


Food Poisoning

Friends toasting each other at a picnic

Amy Eckert / Getty Images

The CDC estimates that 48 million people suffer from food poisoning each year in the U.S. Summertime is full of picnics, and picnics bring food out into the open where it can stay warm too long. Avoid an outbreak of food poisoning this summer by following simple guidelines about food safety and food handling. Common sense will prevent you and your friends and families from coming down with a food-borne illness.


Eye Damage

woman trying on sunglasses

Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

UV rays in sunlight can damage your eyes. If you are out in the sunlight in the summertime, be sure to wear sunglasses that filter out UV light. Otherwise, your sunglasses are opening up your pupils by making things darker, which actually lets in more UV rays, not less. Be sure your sunglasses filter out 100% of UV light and be sure to wear them, especially around water, which can reflect a tremendous about of light to your eyes.


Driving Accidents

Car crashed into a pole

Martin Diebel / Getty Images

Driving accidents are the number one killer for young people. Avoid summer car accidents by:

  • Never drinking and driving
  • Keeping summer road trips to a reasonable length
  • Never driving after midnight


figure 8 shaped pool

George Gutenberg / Getty Images

Each year almost 4,000 people drown in the U.S. Several hundred of them drown in boating accidents. The CDC estimates that about 8,000 suffer from near-drowning each year. Prevent these summer tragedies through supervision, proper pool safety and enforcing rules around the water.



woman Sweating outside during a run

Predrag Vuckovic /  E+ / Getty Images

Dehydration can happen quickly in the summer heat. Be sure that you have water handy whenever you will be in the heat for a long time. Don't forget about children, too; they may not ask for water. Be sure to take frequent water breaks during the kids' summer activities.


Bug Bites

Avoid mosquito bites
Renaud Visage / Getty Images

Bug bites can be annoying and itchy. They can also be serious if they bring an infectious disease like West Nile or Lyme disease. Prevent bug bites and infection this summer by avoiding buggy situations, using a good bug repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves when in buggy areas.


Unsafe Sex

A couple in bed.

Alexander Nicholson / Getty Images

Summer brings thoughts of romance and new love interests. While the spontaneity of a summer romance is exhilarating, the risks of a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, are very real. Before engaging in any summer fling, know how you will protect yourself.


Fireworks Injury


Michelle Dale / EyeEm / Getty Images

Each year, on average more than 10,000 people are injured by fireworks so severely that they must go to the emergency room. Avoid these serious injuries by leaving fireworks to the professionals. If you insist on doing fireworks in your own backyard, use common sense safety, understand what each firework does and keep children at a safe distance.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2021.

  2. American Cancer Society. Basal and squamous cell skin cancer risk factors.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about food poisoning.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. The sun, UV light and your eyes.

  6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motor vehicle traffic crashes as a leading cause of death in the United States, 2016 and 2017.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning facts.

  8. MedlinePlus. Dehydration.

  9. Rosenberg R, Lindsey NP, Fischer M, et al. Vital signs : trends in reported vectorborne disease cases — United States and territories, 2004–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(17):496-501. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6717e1

  10. Marier A, Smith B, Lee S. Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2020. Bethesda, MD: Consumer Product Safety Commission; 2021.

By Mark Stibich, PhD
Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.