Top ten summer hazards

Surf's up and it's time for fun, but summer also has its risks. Drownings, snake bites and too much sun are among the top ten hazards identified by UNSW experts.

Summer hazards inside

Surf's up and it's time for fun, but summer also has its risks.

Professor Paul Barach, head of UNSW's Injury Risk Management Research Centre, predicts a spike in drownings and boating accidents, high sun exposure and car crashes as holiday makers trek to a place by the water.

They lead a top 10 hazards list compiled by the Centre.

1. Drowning and water craft injuries
2. Sun damage/heat stroke
3. Car crashes
4. Motorbike/bicycle/scooter/four-wheel drive injuries
5. Fire and explosions, burns
6. Poisons - chemicals, bites from snakes and spiders
7. Falls
8. Sports injuries
9. Pedestrian injuries
10. Repetitive strain injuries (too much TV, video games and Wii)

"Australia is a big country with an overabundance of sunshine, beaches and waterways," says Professor Barach.

"Summertime will see many people making long car trip as they go on vacation to soak up the sun and cool their heels on and in the water. These holiday journeys are often accompanied by high blood alcohol levels due to social drinking. Unfortunately, this increases people's exposure to the top three causes of injury-related deaths in the western world."

The top ten summer hazards list was compiled by reports from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the US Centers for Disease Control, and informal surveys of UNSW injury experts and children. ABS figures reveal that motor vehicle collisions involving occupants and pedestrians are by far the leading cause of serious injury and death in Australia. Young males aged 18 to 35 years are over-represented in these figures.

Among children, drownings are a leading cause of fatal injuries worldwide. "These occur most commonly when young children are unsupervised or exposed to open bodies of water and unfenced pools," Professor Barach says.

Health experts are seeing increasing reports of injuries linked to computer video games, and virtual reality games. Anecdotal reports suggest that the popular Wii game is linked to an increased risk of falls, hyperextension and repetitive strain injuries.

Media Contact: Paul Barach | 0401 713 490 or Dan Gaffney | | 0411 156 015