With a long break from school, it's no wonder why kids love the summer—but they're not the only ones. For many of us, summer is the season of relaxation and fun, whether traveling or staying home. The season's warm weather is perfect for bike riding, swimming, hosting cookouts with family and friends, and more. However, many popular summer activities can end in a trip to the emergency room if you're not careful. To identify the most common product-related summer injuries, we looked at emergency room injury data from 1998 through 2017, provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (CPSC-NEISS).
- The majority of summer injuries consist of biking and swimming injuries sustained by children ages 5 to 10 years.
- Children ages 1 to 5 years run a high risk of hand injuries during the summer from touching fans and hot grills.
- Lawn maintenance and air conditioner injuries are common in the summer for adults ages 40 to 50 years.
Which Products Are Responsible for Most Summer Injuries?
|Product||Primary Injury||Main Body Part||Primary Age Group||ER Visits Per Summer|
|Above-ground swimming pools||Submersion||All parts of body||5-10||1,040|
|Air conditioners||Strain or Sprain||Trunk, lower||40-50||5,512|
|Amusement attractions||Strain or Sprain||Neck||5-10||8,323|
|Beach chairs or folding chairs||Laceration||Finger||1-5||2,490|
|Bicycles or accessories||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||184,531|
|Built-in swimming pools||Laceration||Face||5-10||10,227|
|Camping equipment||Strain or Sprain||Trunk, lower||40-50||1,799|
|Charcoal or wood-burning grills||Burns, thermal||Hand||1-5||708|
|Diving or diving boards||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||5,694|
|Flotation toys||Submersion||All parts of body||1-5||742|
|Garden hoses, nozzles or sprinklers||Laceration||Face||70-80||5,357|
|Gas or LP grills or stoves||Burns, thermal||Face||40-50||1,395|
|Generators or power plants||Anoxia||All parts of body||40-50||564|
|Golf carts||Internal organ injury||Head||10-15||3,962|
|Grills, not specified||Burns, thermal||Hand||1-5||3,951|
|Hammocks||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||1,201|
|Lawn mowers, not specified||Laceration||Finger||40-50||15,335|
|Lawn trimmers or edgers, powered||Contusions, Abrasions||Eyeball||40-50||3,210|
|Mopeds or power-assisted cycles||Internal organ injury||Head||15-20||3,962|
|Mountain climbing||Strain or Sprain||Ankle||20-25||1,450|
|Mountain or all-terrain bicycles or accessories||Fracture||Shoulder||40-50||4,732|
|Other toy guns||Laceration||Face||5-10||714|
|Outdoor awnings or shutters||Laceration||Head||60-70||636|
|Outdoor patio heaters or firepits||Burns, thermal||Hand||1-5||664|
|Portable food or beverage coolers||Strain or Sprain||Trunk, lower||40-50||1,372|
|Portable swimming pools||Submersion||All parts of body||1-5||703|
|Power hedge trimmers||Laceration||Finger||40-50||1,765|
|Propane, LP or butane gas tanks or fittings||Burns, thermal||Face||50-60||647|
|Pruning or trimming equipment, not specified||Laceration||Finger||40-50||7,106|
|Riding power lawn mowers||Strain or Sprain||Trunk, lower||50-60||5,014|
|Rope or string||Fracture||Finger||10-15||3,497|
|Rotary power lawn mowers||Laceration||Finger||50-60||1,461|
|Scuba diving||Other/Not Stated||Ear||40-50||553|
|Sprayers, not elsewhere classified||Laceration||Finger||40-50||1,550|
|Swimming pool chemicals||Poisoning||All parts of body||5-10||1,959|
|Swimming pool equipment||Laceration||Face||5-10||1,948|
|Swimming pool slides||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||874|
|Swimming pools, not specified||Laceration||Face||5-10||33,614|
|Water slides, backyard/home||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||2,297|
|Water slides, not elsewhere classified||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||1,151|
|Water slides, public||Internal organ injury||Head||5-10||2,745|
|Water tubing||Strain or Sprain||Neck||15-20||3,730|
Bicycles account for the largest number of injuries at 184,531 estimated ER visits per summer. Swimming-related activities, fishing, lawn maintenance, fireworks and amusement attractions account for the next-highest injury numbers. Some of these products are more financially accessible than others—for instance, it's easier to own a bicycle versus a built-in swimming pool—and therefore, individuals may be exposed to one type of product over others. Sustained injuries from these products also vary in severity, with drownings, poisonings and concussions as the three worst summer injuries. These injuries are most common among water-related products such as swimming pools, flotation toys, swimming pool chemicals and water slides. The summer heat can also put a strain on local power grids, which can lead to power outages and a need for some consumers to break out their generators. Power generator injuries account for roughly 564 ER visits each summer. Anoxia, or lack of oxygen from overexposure to noxious fumes such as carbon monoxide, is the most common.
Lawn Maintenance Injuries by Age Group
Air Conditioner Injuries by Age Group
Fishing Injuries by Age Group
Many of these summer product injuries have a strong dependency on age demographics. The majority of consumers injured by fireworks, bicycles and swimming products are between ages 1 and 15 years. However, adults are also prone to a fair number of product-related injuries over the summer. Lawn maintenance injuries from using lawn mowers and trimmers are very common among adults between ages 35 and 80 years. Heavy air conditioners also claim their share of summer victims, injuring people between ages 20 and 70 years. Summer fishing injuries are, interestingly, split between 5- to 15-year-olds and 40- to 70-year-olds.
Summer Safety Tips for Homeowners
Air conditioner injuries increase during the summer, mostly as a result of muscle strains from lifting. Window units can weigh more than 40 pounds, so ask an able-bodied friend, neighbor or relative for help if you need to move one. There's also a risk of electric shock when working with a unit, so be certain the unit is powered off and unplugged before attempting to move it.
Generator injuries are prevalent in the summertime and can result in muscle strain and anoxia injuries. Similar to air conditioners, generators can be very heavy, so it's recommended you move them with help from an able-bodied person. Make sure your generator runs in a space that is well-ventilated, with a carbon monoxide detector, to avoid the buildup of noxious fumes.
Pool and swimming injuries are mostly sustained by children between the ages of 1 and 15 years. Children should not use the pool unless there's a responsible adult who can supervise them. And everyone should avoid running near the pool or attempting jumps or dives into shallow water. Avoid overcrowding the pool so no one accidentally hits or kicks one another. It is also a smart move to have one or more members of your household learn CPR.
Lawn maintenance tools, such as lawn mowers and hedge trimmers, are also notably dangerous summer products. Protective eyewear and earwear should be used at all times. Operators should be mindful of hand and foot placement. If cleaning or sharpening a blade, be sure to power off and unplug your equipment.
Grills and fire pits are great for summer cookouts and roasting marshmallows, but consumers risk burn injuries if not careful. It's best to wear mitts when operating a grill to lower the chances of burning your hand or arm. No one should run or horse around near the grill or fire pit, and young children should avoid the area entirely.
In addition to safe practices during summertime activities, you should also be prepared in case one of your guests is injured, particularly if the incident happens on your property. We recommend you keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the house, especially near potential hazards such as a fire pit. You should also review your homeowners insurance policy to understand the protections it offers in the case of an injury. Most home insurance policies provide liability coverage if you're held liable for another person's injury or property damage—for example, if you hit a pedestrian while riding your bike. You may also have medical payments coverage, which covers guest injuries while they're on your property, no matter who was at fault. So, if a neighbor's child falls during your barbecue, their injuries would be covered.
To analyze summer injuries, we looked at data from 1998 through 2017 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (CPSC-NEISS) which samples ER visits due to product-related injuries from ~100 hospitals across the country each year. A fractional weight, total hospitals (5,534) divided by sampled hospitals (100), was used as a multiplier for a crude estimate of the total ER visits across the country. Summer product injuries were isolated from mundane injuries utilizing the following criteria:
- On average, the product results in 10 or more NEISS sampled ER visits per summer.
- More than 25% of the product’s injuries occur in the summer.
- Products exhibit a positive percent increase in injuries from spring to summer.