4 Deadliest Dangers of Summer

Summer is traditionally a time for sand, surf, and fun in the sun. But unfortunately, some of the season's activities can put both adults and children at risk for serious accidents, from broken bones to heatstroke and even drowning. How can you protect your family from these potential perils? Read on as we reveal the four deadliest dangers of summer—and what you can do to keep from being a victim.

  1. Hot Cars.
  2. According to research from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, at least 25 children die each year as a result of being left in hot cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sums it up like this: A locked car sitting in the summer sun can quickly turn into an oven, with temperatures that can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes and to 125 degrees in six to eight minutes. At these temperatures, children are a great risk for heatstroke, which can lead to a high fever, dehydration, seizures, stroke, and death. To avoid this type of tragedy, never leave your kids alone in the car, even for just a few minutes. Lock your car, and secure the keys so that your children don't have access to them—and educate your relatives and babysitters about the dangers of leaving kids unattended in the car. Also, always ensure that your child exits the vehicle when you reach your destination. Many of these tragedies are simply the result of a misunderstanding between parents, in which each one thinks the other brought the child out of the car.

  3. Car Accidents.
  4. When the summer sun is shining and you're cruising along with not a care in the world, the urge to put the top down, the radio up, and the pedal to the metal can be tempting. But driving recklessly can come with serious and even deadly consequences, especially for teens, who are relishing in their newfound freedom to drive. During 2004 alone, 4,767 teens (between 16 and 19) in the United States died of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, motor vehicle crashes account for 36 percent of all deaths in this age group. Be sure to talk to your kids about the importance of driver safety, and explain the potential dangers of reckless behavior behind the wheel. Many state websites now offer easily printable Driver Safety Contracts, in which teens make a written agreement with their parents to obey the rules of the road.


  5. Playground Mishaps.
  6. Taking your kids to the park may seem like the perfect way to pass the time on a lazy summer day. But for 200,000 children each year, an afternoon on the monkey bars or see-saw means a trip to the emergency room. According to the CDC, about 45 percent of playground-related injuries are severe and include fractures, concussions, dislocations, amputations, and internal injuries. To keep your little ones safe at the park, make sure the equipment they're playing on is age-appropriate—and never let them out of your sight.


  7. Drownings.
  8. On a hot day, nothing's more enticing than rolling ocean waves or a clear blue swimming pool, but both harbor some serious perils. In 2005, there were 3,582 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging 10 deaths per day. An additional 710 people died, from drowning and other causes, in boating-related incidents, according to the CDC. Toddlers can drown in just a few inches of water, so even a half-full bucket can pose a threat to them. But you can guard against these dangers by being alert and taking the proper precautions: If you have a swimming pool in your backyard and toddlers running about, invest in a safety gate. And whenever you take a trip to a beach or a communal swimming pool, ensure that your kids are outfitted with floatation devices and a lifeguard is always on duty.