Summer Perils

Surviving the hot months unscathed is mostly a case of knowing which risks to really worry about.

Brian Nutt

With apologies to George Gershwin, summertime living may be easy, but behind the season’s gentle breezes lurk several health hazards. For example, the odds of being stung by a jellyfish are small, while heat stroke claims more lives on average than many natural disasters combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, here’s what to watch for, to keep your summer a safe and happy one.

Foul Weather

Hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning strikes frequently threaten Florida residents during the summer season, so experts say make preparations ahead of time. One surprising potential risk is fast-moving streams that often follow these weather events. The streams can carry bacteria such as shigella, which are produced from pesticide residue, vehicular debris and septic tank spillovers. Other water risks include drownings in lakes and area swimming pools, and recreational water illnesses. One, an amoeba found in freshwater lakes, can lodge inside nasal passages, causing headaches and neck pain similar to symptoms seen in meningitis. 

The Wild Ones

Florida has its share of wild critters, such as sharks, alligators and wild boars, but the summer months bring more random clashes with two other creatures: snakes and jellyfish. The state has six types of poisonous snakes, and campers may run into several—including the water moccasin—while boating or swimming. “My advice is to leave any snake alone, and it will leave you alone,” says David Overfield, director of environmental health, Florida Department of Health, Orange County. As for jellyfish, he applies similar advice: “If it has tentacles, stay away from it.” The sting of these baglike creatures can be fatal in rare cases. Lifeguards post purple flags to warn of their presence, usually highest in late summer and early fall.

Sun Risks

Sun worshippers flock to the beaches in summer, but too much sun can trigger heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The sun can also raise the risk for skin cancers, including melanoma, the most deadly type. Severe sunburns and even too much time in a tanning booth can contribute to changes in size, shape or color of moles and other skin lesions that may signal a developing cancer. Detected early, however, melanoma has a high survival rate, although prevention is best—wear sunscreen with a high protection factor, cover up and avoid the midday sun. To avoid heat stroke, experts advise staying well hydrated and taking breaks during exercise. Also, never leave children or animals in a hot car, where temperatures can soar rapidly to 140 degrees.


​Mosquitoes, ticks, wasps and bees all pose health problems in summer because people are outdoors more, increasing the potential for encounters. But beyond their annoyance, some of these insects can carry serious diseases. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus or even dengue fever, normally seen only in the tropics. Mosquitoes’ ranges are expanding, says the state Department of Health’s Overfield. 

“It’s not just cover up at dawn and dusk anymore, but whenever you’re outside,” he advises. As for tick-borne Lyme disease, Floridians see mostly sporadic cases, he says, although within 24 hours of infection, the Lyme bacterium has the ability to enter the brain, mimicking other illnesses, including lupus and even Alzheimer’s. Wasp and bee stings remain dangerous year-round, especially for those with life-threatening allergies.

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

2018 Premier Veterinarians

The 2018 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2018

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2018

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2018

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2018

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2017 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Health Hub: Cancer Care For The Body, Mind and Spirit

Treating the whole patient can improve outcomes.

Texas de Brazil Fall Feast Giveaway

Enter to win a $200 gift certificate for four to Texas de Brazil for a Fall Feast to remember!

Kid Kontributor of the Month - September 2018

Read all about why Leah's cat, Missy, is special, and learn all about our monthly feature, the "Kid Kontributor of the Month."

Orlando Burger Battle 2018 Giveaway

Enter to win VIP and General Admission tickets to our epic Orlando Burger Battle and a subscription to Orlando Magazine!

Health Hub: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Research and advancements in treatment provide hope for the future
Edit Module