Most popular season also the most deadly
// Lindsay Howe

Hot weather, skimpy clothing, and no homework make summer the favourite time of year among most students. But while you’re perfecting that golden tan, others are experiencing the very different realities that summertime may bring. Every summer, thousands of preventable accidents occur due to carelessness and over-consumption of alcohol. Those numbers, combined with deaths resulting from hot temperatures, make summer a pretty dangerous season; one where you could die – so stop looking forward to it.

With excess amounts of free time and the return of friends who study away from home, summertime is often considered a time to party and reconnect for many university students. However, these times with minimal responsibilities often come with maximum consequences. According to the Canadian Public Health Association, intoxication is not only the cause of accidents and injuries but also strokes, overdose, poisoning, and pancreatic problems. Aside from those issues, intoxication is also a leading factor in the spread of sexually transmitted infections due to unsafe sexual practices.

According to the US department of Transportation, summer, and more specifically summer holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, place second in terms of fatal accidents and accidents with injuries. Not only is being involved in a car accident caused by drinking and driving more likely during summer, but other injuries involved in holiday activities, like injuries due to the improper use of fireworks, are dramatically increased when the hot weather arrives.

While many of us anxiously await the first day we can sport our new skirt or pair of shorts comfortably, many seniors begin to worry about very real issues associated with hot, dry weather. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, every year over 1,500 people in the United States die as a result of summer heat waves, with the majority being senior citizens. The reason the heat has such a specific target with the elderly is due to the body’s coping mechanisms diminishing with age.

Aside from the biological issues that affect senior’s ability to maintain a healthy body temperature, another group of people negatively affected by summer heat waves are members of the homeless population. According to Health Canada, the homeless fall under the title of “Heat Vulnerable Groups” due to their lack of financial resources to take protective actions (sunscreen, etc.), limited access to clean water, an increase in environmental exposures, higher rates of alcohol and drug dependency, and social isolation.

As a member of the young, affluent public, you aren't invincible to the harmful rays of the sun either. Unfortunately, strutting around in your itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini for long periods of time causes overexposure to UVA and UVB radiation that not only damages your skin, but can lead to the development of the most common cancer, skin cancer. According to Health Canada, skin cancer is responsible for 1/3 of all new cases of cancer in Canada per year, and that number is continuously on the rise. In 2008, 1 in 425 Canadians were expected to develop some type of skin cancer, with an estimated 910 of those dying from the most dangerous type, melanoma. Sunburns, and even tans, are both signs that UV rays have damaged the skin.

Aside from the skin cancer dangers that exist due to overexposure of that beautiful summer weather, Health Canada explains that there are other health consequences that need to be monitored, stating, “Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation has also been linked to a number of other health effects, including sunburns, cataracts, premature aging of the skin, and weakening of the immune system.”

This summer, please think about how your family members are coping with the heat, and more importantly, think about how you are coping with the temptations of stupid summer behaviour. Are you binge drinking, developing a cherry-red complexion, playing with illegal fireworks, or participating in unsafe sexual activity? Remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself, man; summer sucks!

//Lindsay Howe, writer
//Graphics by Kailey Patton 

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