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Summer Outdoor Safety

As the temperature rises in the city, Boston springs to life with activity after a long winter. ​

Whether hosting a BBQ, spending the day at the park, or biking, it is important that you follow our tips on outdoor safety to have a fun, yet safe and healthy, season.

Protect Yourself from the Sun​: Nearly one million cases of skin cancer are detected each year, making it the most commonly occurring cancer in the US. Reducing exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can decrease the risk of skin cancer. Use protective sunscreen (SPF-15 or higher) and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and hats. Be especially cautious when the sun's UV radiation is strongest, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Avoid tanning beds which increase skin cancer risk, hasten skin wrinkles and "sun spots," and don't protect against sunburn. Make sure to also be mindful of heat exhaustion and heat stroke when temperatures are high.  Never leave a child, elder, or pet in a car, even for a minute. After 5 minutes a car can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the point at which a child can experience heatstroke. Remember to ACT (Avoid, Create Reminders, and Take Action). Avoid leaving anyone in a parked vehicle. Create reminders by putting something in the backseat to remember to take out your child when you leave the vehicle. Take Action and call 911 if you see someone unattended in a vehicle. You could save a life.
Children and the elderly are particularly at-risk of heat-related illnesses, but everyone should remember to limit strenuous outdoor activities, drink plenty of water, and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. If you have to be outdoors for long periods of time, it is important to rest often and find shade. ​


For a Spanish version of our Sixty Second Summer Safety Series: Heat Safety video, please click here

Food and Grilling Safety:  Foodborne illnesses (or food poisoning) are caused by germs in contaminated meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, produce, or some liquids. To prevent foodborne illness, be sure to: 

Wash your hands often

  1. Keep raw foods that need cooking away from foods that are ready to eat
  2. Make sure food is well cooked
  3. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold before serving
  4. ​Do not leave food out for more than one hour. Also, never place barbeque grills on porches or decks where they can create a fire hazard. Grills should always be used in a well-ventilated area where their open flames cannot pose a risk to surrounding people and property.

For a Spanish version of our Sixty Second Summer Safety Series: Food​ Safety video, please click here

Animal Bites: 
Rabies is caused by a germ found in the saliva of infected animals. It usually spreads to pets and humans through the bite of an infected raccoon, bat, fox, or skunk. 

To reduce the risk of rabies, make sure pets are up-to-date with their rabies vaccine; do not allow pets to roam free; and do not leave pet food outside. Avoid contact with and feeding of stray and wild animals, and wear gloves while handling pets that have been wounded by other animals. Secure trashcans and cap your chimney so that animals cannot get into them.


For a Spanish version of our Sixty Second Summer Safety Series: Dog Safety video, please click here

​​Illnesses Spread by Mosquitoes and TicksMosquito bites can spread West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), while attached ticks can spread Lyme disease. Not all mosquitoes and ticks carry disease, but you should take steps to protect yourself. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks to prevent mosquito bites. Limit you time outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and apply an approved mosquito repellent. Before using any repellent, be sure to read the product label to find out how long it offers protection, how often the product needs to be reapplied, and any precautions that need to be taken when applying the product. After returning indoors, wash off repellent with soap and water. If you are in a grassy, brushy, or wooded area, apply a DEET containing repellent that will protect against mosquitoes AND ticks. Always check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after returning indoors and remove attached ticks immediately using tweezers.


For a Spanish version of our Sixty Second Summer Safety Series: Mosquito​ Safety video, please click here
Pool, Ocean, and Lake Safety: Learning to swim and following basic water safety rules can prevent drowning. One of the best things anyone can do to stay safe in the water is learn to swim and to follow basic water safety rules. Never swim alone, and always swim in areas with lifeguards. Actively watch children when they are swimming. Young children should be within arm's reach. Only swim in areas designated for swimming. Obey "No Diving" signs. Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket and avoid alcohol when boating. Stay away from alcohol participating in water sports and boating, as alcohol can impair judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.

Bicycle Safety: Bicycling injuries increase in the summer months. It is important to know how to ride safely to prevent crashes and to wear a helmet on every trip. Helmets are the single most effective safety device available to reduce bicycle-related head injury and death. A properly fitted helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward, or side-to-side. Helmets benefit riders of all ages and Massachusetts law require riders ages 16 and under to wear a helmet. Low cost helmets are available through our partnership with Boston Medical Center. Bicycles are vehicles of the road and should follow the same traffic laws and regulations as automobiles, for example not riding on sidewalks, riding with traffic, and obeying traffic lights. Riders should obey all traffic laws and regulations. Cyclists need to indicate turns and stops with hand signals and should stay visible by wearing bright clothing and using a headlight or taillight if riding at dusk or at night.

Window Fall Prevention: Window falls are one of the leading causes of injury to children under age five. Falls from heights can cause serious injury or death. Windows should be locked if not in use or opened from the top if possible. All furniture, and anything a child can climb on, should be kept away from window area. For windows in use, window guards are recommended. Window guards can be purchased at local hardware stores.  Boston residents can visit the link below to learn where to purchase discounted window guards. ​
Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: