PIRG, Environment America guide to safe, sustainable summer fun

Make summer better by avoiding concert, vacation scams; sustainably and safely picnicking, swimming, biking

Staff | TPIN

Summertime brings more opportunities for fun outside as well as more opportunities for trouble or scams. We’ve compiled information on a wide variety of topics to help everyone have the best summer they can.

On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…


Summer vacations are an American tradition. But before you set out for your destination, if you’re booking a beach house or a great place in the mountains, make sure the property exists — and isn’t already occupied: Avoid a vacation rental scam by watching out for these flags


If you’re flying this year, be prepared: This summer is expected to be the busiest in years. Experts at the International Air Transport Association predict a record 4.7 billion passengers will fly this year, surpassing the 4.5 billion in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. More people were bumped voluntarily and involuntarily last year than in 2022. Beyond crowding and overbooking flights, airlines mishandled 2.8 million bags last year. See our guide to a hassle-free trip. It includes what you need to know about upcoming rule changes for refunds and baggage fees: http://FlightTips.org.


About 1.2 million new electric vehicles hit U.S. roads in 2023. Currently, EV drivers can take advantage of about 8,200 quick-turn EV stations across the country, or one for every 15 gas stations, according to a Bloomberg Green analysis. Anticipating growing demand for power during road trips, the Biden administration created the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, which brings new EV chargers online each month. With this enhanced — and still growing — charging infrastructure, it’s easier than ever to drive an EV longer distances. And, given government incentives, now’s a good time to buy one. Used EVs are now cheaper than used gas cars


The United States’ world-renowned national parks are fittingly known as America’s “best idea.”  More than 300 million people from around the world journeyed to our national parks in each of the past two years. Part of the parks’ appeal is their remote location and rustic character but you can still reach them by EV. Summer brings crowds, so book entry times and campsites well in advance. The National Park Service is behind on maintaining roads, trails and buildings but courtesy of the Great American Outdoors Act, Congress has allocated $1.3 billion per year for five years to help fix things. Can you road trip to national parks in an electric car?


Americans love the beach. Our lake and ocean waters are great places to cool off on a hot day, to relax with friends and family, or simply to enjoy peace and quiet amid nature. Too often, however, water pollution ruins our enjoyment of the beach – and it can even make us sick. Fecal contamination from sources such as urban runoff, sewage overflows and factory farms can contain pathogens that threaten the health of swimmers, or that force beaches to be closed to protect public health. See Environment America’s 2023 “Safe for Swimming?” dashboard. NOTE: You can pick out your state in the drop-down menu and then find a link to currently available data for most U.S. beaches — including, probably, your favorite.

Stay-cation’s all that I wanted…


Stay-cations are more memorable with special events close to home. Outdoor stadium concerts, multi-day festivals and sports competitions make for great memories. Here’s some advice to help you avoid the growing problems of counterfeit event tickets.
Fake tickets, real heartbreak: Tips for fans to spot scams


Warm temperatures and no school mean time to enjoy the outdoors. But some of your gear may not be safe. Bike helmets are one of the most frequently recalled items through the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bike helmets recalled: More than 140,000 and counting don’t meet safety standards

Here are some other recently recalled products you should know about so you can safely enjoy your yard, patio or swimming pool:


Illnesses caused by Salmonella and Listeria occur more often in the summer because the bacteria love warm temperatures and unrefrigerated foods at picnics and outdoor gatherings. Salmonella often contaminates raw fruits, leafy greens and prepackaged salads. Listeria often infects raw vegetables, deli meat and premade deli salads, such as coleslaw and potato salad. We have tips for:
How to keep your food safe during that Memorial Day picnic


Bringing family and friends together to enjoy the sunshine while eating burgers, hot dogs and veggies fresh off the grill can be a lot of fun. But cleaning up lots of plastic waste at the end of the night isn’t. Here are “Five tips to avoid single-use plastic at your summer cookout.”


A handful of aerosol sunscreen products — as well as spray deodorant, foot spray and hand sanitizers — have been recalled in recent years because of the presence of benzene. The FDA says it’s investigating why benzene is showing up in aerosol personal healthcare products. Sunscreen and the carcinogen benzene: What to know to protect yourself


Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, PIRG

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

Mark Morgenstein

Director of Media Relations, The Public Interest Network

Mark leads The Public Interest Network’s national communications and media relations campaigns. Before joining The Public Interest Network, Mark worked at CNN for nearly 20 years, and taught writing classes for six years through the Turner Professional Development Center. Mark was the recipient of an Emmy Award, two Peabody Awards and a DuPont Award. Mark currently lives near Denver, Colo., with his wife and three children. He's also a music fanatic who's been lucky enough to interview many of his favorite artists.