From Memorial Day to Labor Day there are picnics, vacations and, unfortunately, a spike in emergency room visits. Although your essential health benefits cover emergency services, the ER isn’t a place you want to become too familiar with. Therefore, we’ve gathered a list of common summer injuries and what you can do to prevent them wherever you go.
In the Water
Whether at a pool, lake, river or beach, there are many hazards associated with water activities. During the summer, doctors see many swimming and water-related injuries. In 2016, six children between the ages of 0-14-years-old in Nevada fatally drowned. Pool Safely offers resources and tips for keeping children and adults safe. Some of the most important tips include learning to swim and wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Diving is also a common summer hazard. Diving injuries can result in head or spinal cord injuries and potentially, death. The best way to prevent these summer injuries is to know how deep the water is before diving in head first. Taking this time could save your life.
Heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, dehydration and sunburns are also more common because the sun reflects off the water. The same tips you probably heard from your parents a million times are still relevant: drink water and wear sunscreen. It’s also important to stay out of direct sunlight during the warmest part of the day –from approximately 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Summer is the perfect time to unplug and head up to the mountains or to a local campground. While in the wild, however, you share the space with other critters and bugs. Bug bites are common and range from an itchy nuisance to a serious virus. Always wear insect repellent that contains DEET. Covering up from head to toe (yes, closed-toed shoes are essential) also helps to keep the bugs and bites away. For more information, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s resources.
No camping trip would be complete without a fire. Whether you like to cook up simple hot dogs and s’mores or a more time consuming Dutch oven potatoes and cobbler, be wary of burns. Start by building your fire in the right area—away from overhanging branches, on gravel or dirt and within a ring of metal or rocks. Never leave a campfire unattended and take the time to teach children fire safety.
Just like when you’re out on the water, staying hydrated is essential to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. If you are in more remote places, be sure the water you are drinking is clean. American Hiking Society states that boiling water is the most foolproof purifying method, though there are other safe methods as well.
When at home, don’t let your guard down. Many injuries are waiting just outside. For example, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), approximately 20,000 children are injured by lawn mowers each year. Preventative tips include keeping young children inside or at a safe distance, clearing the yard of large sticks and rocks the mower could throw, wearing closed-toe shoes, and always keeping hands away from the blade. Read AAP’s “Lawn Mower Safety” for more information.
At night, it’s thrilling to watch the sky light up with fireworks (we’re looking at you, Fourth of July). If you are in charge of the neighborhood or family amateur fireworks display, BE CAREFUL. In 2016, there were approximately 11,000 fireworks-related injuries treated in U.S. hospitals. Before starting the show, follow the National Council on Fireworks Safety’s recommended safety tips. A better option is attending a local city or corporate-sponsored professional fireworks display.
Finally, many common summer injuries at home occur when playing sports. No matter the sport or activity, take time to warm up, stretch and cool down. Like any other physical activity, stay hydrated. If you are active for a more extended period or profusely sweating, find a drink with electrolytes. For further protection, use the appropriate protective gear for the activity—including any specific shoes needed.
Summer is a great time to get outside and get active as long as you’re doing it the safe way. Accidents may still happen. When they do, please visit a doctor or appropriate emergency care facility. However, by being wary of common summer injuries and following these prevention tips, you and your loved ones will have a safer and more enjoyable summer.