Nothing’s worse than having to stop any summer fun! Village Health shares a few common reasons for emergency room visits and some tips to stay safe to keep the fun going all summer long.

The summer months bring us fun outdoor activities, family gatherings with cookouts, swimming, and other water sports. These hot months also bring an increase in emergency room visits for heat and swimming related injuries. Here are some common reasons for emergency room visits in the summer months and some tips for staying safe.

Heat Related Injury 

We can be having such a good time that we forget to drink water or take a break to cool off. This can lead to heat related injury that may require medical attention. 


Dehydration is more common when spending prolonged periods of time outside, and often affects people of older age. Staying hydrated helps your body keep its regular temperature consistent. Some symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Decreased or dark urine output
  • Dry skin
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

For parents and caretakers of children, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration for young children and infants. The symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Crying without tears
  • Dry diaper for extended amount of time
  • Fever
  • Unusual Sleepiness or Drowsiness

Take water breaks, carry water with you, eat fruits/foods with high water content, and avoid caffeine & alcohol!

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a result of overexposure to extreme heat and should be taken seriously. If you suspect that you or someone around you has heat exhaustion, it is important for them to immediately rest, hydrate, and if possible retreat to a cooler area with air conditioning or a fan. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Rapid pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dark urine

If symptoms of heat exhaustion do not improve, medical attention should be sought to prevent heat stroke.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke often begins with symptoms of heat exhaustion. The symptoms of heat stroke may progress rapidly. Like other heat related injuries, older adults and infants are at higher risk. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature over 104°F
  • Dry skin or extreme sweating
  • Rapid pulse
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of heat stroke, make sure the person is moved to a cooler area with shade. Placing wet clothes or ice on the head, neck, armpits, or groin may help alleviate symptoms. If symptoms do not improve, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Swimming Related Injury 

Drowning is a serious threat to children. According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children ages 1-14. It is no surprise that warm weather, pool parties, and family vacations make this a more common emergency room visit in the summer months. However, drowning does not always lead to death.

Non-fatal drowning can sometimes cause permanent brain damage and other serious outcomes, including long-term disability. Drowning does not only affect children. Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in almost 1 in 4 emergency room visits for drowning. Alcohol impairs balance, coordination, and judgment, increasing the risk for water related injury or death among adults. To prevent swimming or water related injury in children, some things we can do are:

  • Use life jackets or floatation devices
  • Close supervision
  • Provide swimming lessons
  • Learn CPR

Prevent Adult Drowning:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Learn to swim
  • Use Floatation devices or life jackets
  • Know the risks of natural waters

If you are going to be in natural water settings:

  • Obey warning signs on beaches
  • Watch for dangerous waves or currents
  • Swim parallel to shore
  • Never swim alone
  • Be aware of hazards & weather

It only takes a moment for someone to drown, but swimming skills and water competency can go a long way in keeping your summer safe & fun.  

Summertime is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the weather. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with summer activities like swimming and heat stroke. By knowing how to stay safe in the sun and water, you can reduce your risk of injury or worse. Stay safe out there and Village Health is happy to wish everyone a great summer!

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