Six Ways to Ruin Your Summer Fun!

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A group of children at a pool learning to swim.

Ahhh, summer… when the weather’s nice, the birds are singing and the ways to endanger your health are many. Here are six things that can ruin your summer fun and simple steps that you can take to prevent them from happening.

1. Don’t Get Overheated

It doesn’t matter whether you’re physically fit or young and healthy. Heat-related illnesses can impact you. Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Here are some ways to avoid overheating.

  • Know how to #BeatTheHeat if the power goes out: Go to a movie, a museum, a cooling center, or other public place if you do NOT have AC at home. Air conditioning is the #1 protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Cut down on exercise when it’s hot outside.

2. Don’t Swim Carelessly

Just because you’re a strong swimmer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t refresh your memory on basic water safety. Follow the tips below to stay safe in the water.

  • Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can help protect young children from drowning.
  • Don’t be distracted. Keep your eyes on kids who are in the water. Drownings are a leading cause of injury and death for children ages 1-14.
  • Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high.
  • Teach little ones the H2O Smarts about water safety.
  • Always swim with a buddy and select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.

3. Don’t Let the Bugs Bite

Spending time outdoors can bring you in close contact with mosquitoes and ticks. Mosquitoes and ticks are hungry, and they like to bite people. Protect yourself from mosquito and tick-borne diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

  • If you find a tick, don’t panic and avoid folklore remedies, such as “painting” the tick with nail polish. Instead, use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and clothing treated with permethrin.
  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

4. Don’t Eat Bad BBQ

An estimated 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year. Rates of infection increase in summer months. Take these simple steps to leave your next BBQ with leftovers; not foodborne illness.

  • Separate raw and cooked food to avoid cross-contamination
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill
    harmful germs.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meat.
  • Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill

5. Don’t Pick Poisonous Plants

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can be found from coast to coast. Exposure to these unpleasant plants can fill your life with itchy despair and unsightly rashes. Follow the tips below to prevent this from happening.

6. Don’t Go without Sunscreen

It can take as little as fifteen minutes for the sun’s ultraviolet rays to damage your beautiful skin. But that doesn’t have to get in the way of your summer fun! The tips below can help you enjoy your time outdoors safely without getting sunburned or increasing your skin cancer risk.

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 on all exposed skin and reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday (roughly 10 AM to 4 PM) when the sun is most intense.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing to shield skin.

Summer is supposed to be fun! Don’t let a lack of basic preparedness ruin it. Stay cool. Swim safely. Use insect repellent and sunscreen. Prepare and grill food safely. Recognize and avoid poisonous plants. Have a safe and happy summer!


Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor. 

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO ( offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

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3 comments on “Six Ways to Ruin Your Summer Fun!”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    The CDC is one of my favorite websites. The information here is so plentiful. Any topic I need information about can be found right on this site. The topic “Six Ways to Ruin Your Summer Fun! grabbed my attention. I have to say that after reading all six recommendations, I knew them already. The thing is we get compliant and tend to forget. Rule #4 talks about properly handling and cooking food. This is a reminder we need to hear every summer. Family picnics and cookouts, we want to play outside, leaving food unattended before and after cooking. Not a good idea. Rule #6 is my favorite because I know better but do not always follow. I head outside, fully protected with my 50 SPF sunscreen, swim for 5 hours, sit in the sun for 2 more hours, realize its time to cook dinner….but I’m the one cooked. Every 2 hours reapply the sunscreen, here I sit with 4 bottles and used them once. Thanks, CDC, for these wonderful reminder tips for everyday use in the summertime.

    The lasting effects of sun exposure are not immediately apparent. This causes people to be slightly aware or unconcerned about (seemingly) minor exposure to sunlight and sunburns. The aftereffects of initial exposure dissipate after a few days. However, the underlying effects over time result in damage to skin cells that are not immediately apparent. Prolonged exposure or frequent exposure creates a high risk of developing skin cancer or other skin abnormalities. Skin is our largest and one of the most important organs and plays a major role in regulating temperature, hydration, and overall health. Due to the fact that it temporarily replenishes itself, sunburns and prolonged exposure to the sun can be the least of many young adults’ concerns. If people are unable or unwilling to wear ultraviolet protective clothing, using zinc-based sunscreen is of the utmost importance.

    With the summer months closely approaching these topics are key issues people are exposed to that directly impact their health. I am a registered nurse who works in a very populated tourist city in VA; known well for our beaches and outdoor venue/ events. Heat exhaustion, exposure to mosquitoes due to the various bodies of water in the area, drownings, and over exposure to the sun without proper protection are all extremely common areas of concern regarding public health and safety in my area. The CDC has outlined appropriate ways to prevent the issues from becoming bigger problems in the future. These suggestions, such as sunscreen with a SPF greater than 15, supervision of young children around bodies of water, the use of bug spray to prevent acquiring diseases from mosquito and tick bites, as well as staying hydrated and properly handling/ cooking food are important interventions to adhere to. These interventions can have a positive impact on health and summer safety for the community as a whole.

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Page last reviewed: August 21, 2019
Page last updated: August 21, 2019