Summer's Hidden (and Obvious) Dangers

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Who says summer means slow news? This week, the good folks over at State Farm Insurance have provided us with an updated list of America’s 10 Most Dangerous Intersections.

Helpful as that information may be, it’s no substitute for a more comprehensive list of summer perils — safety does not begin and end on the road. With that in mind we at have carefully researched and produced our own top 10 list of America’s Most Dangerous Summer Activities.

10. Sitting in right field at PacBell Park at the moment Barry Bonds comes up to bat. This is a great summer to cheer on the Giants slugger — just keep your eyes open and your glove at the ready.

9. Eating your great aunt Hilda’s famous potato salad at a family picnic We’re sure it’s just as tasty as everyone says it is, but if that salad sits outside for more than about eight minutes in midday heat, it could be a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria.

8. Buying a minivan with a VCR and television in the back Too many parents unthinkingly invest in a car outfitted with a newfangled "entertainment" system, then stick their kids in the back and drive happily to their destination, undisturbed by the usual squawked demands for soda and high-pitched infighting over whose foot is creeping over the imaginary boundary drawn down the center of the back seat. When the trip is over, the now drooling kids are ushered into a cabin/beach house where a Playstation is warming up. Years later, when the kids are 22 and serving time for armed robbery, parents will shake their heads sadly and say, "They were always so quiet. Never heard a peep out of them."

7. Listening to the radio in the shower While we applaud your efficiency, we’d like you to remember one thing: The shower is not the place for dancing, mocking the President or cheering on your favorite team. Slippage danger aside, too much excitement means you may knock your radio into the water — and if the radio is plugged in, you’re going to be electrocuted. And that would put a damper on your summer, now wouldn’t it?

6. Getting frisky in a hayloft Oh, it sounds wholesome and Rodgers and Hammerstein-esque. And those little pieces of hay you and your beloved get stuck in your hair are very cute. But take it from us: There’s danger in them-thar piles of hay: Rats, pitchforks, angry farmers. Do yourself a favor and rent a room in town.

5. Wearing flip-flops on the boardwalk We’ve seen it happen a million times. (And about half of those times it happened to us.) You’re walking down an old-fashioned wooden boardwalk, the kind with slats between the boards. Maybe you’re eating an ice-cream cone. You’re feeling happy, carefree. You’re enjoying the slap-slap sound your flip-flops are making against the wood. Suddenly, one foot catches in a slat, and you’re falling, falling, and landing on roughly hewn wood. You’ve lost your composure and your ice-cream cone. You have, however, gained about 30 splinters.

4. Pretending to know how to surf just to impress someone Remember: Hard polyurethane board + big waves + overconfidence = weekend in the hospital in traction (very unbecoming).

3. Being stuck in the Disney studio executive offices when the returns for "Pearl Harbor" roll in Can you say "bummer of epic proportions?" The $140 million Bruckheimer-Bay spectacular posted disappointing numbers at the box office. While Disney execs blame the movie’s long running time, we think the movie’s unsatisfactory performance may have had more to do with unbearable dialogue and a ridiculous subplot.

2. Eating fish from the local "watering hole" Fishing is a great summer activity. Eating fish whose diet consists primarily of waste by-products and sludge is not. Check with your local Sierra Club (okay, or at least the EPA) before you grill that mysterious, three-headed bottom feeder.

1. Going without sunscreen Those cloudy skies look innocuous, don’t they? That’s what they want you to think. Behind that thick gray cloud cover, the sun is blazing away, sending its rays straight through that seemingly impenetrable shield, right onto your nose/shoulders/hairline. And guys, don’t get all macho on us — despite your conviction that you are impervious to all danger, you’re going to get burned just as fast as your mom/wife/girlfriend. As one of our staffers says almost every Monday morning, when he appears in the office with a cringe-inducing sunburn: "That darn sun is a lot stronger than it looks."