While we may be bracing ourselves for the impending winter months, donâ€™t forget that summer is far from over! Unfortunately, summer fun can sometimes bring dangerous or harmful events. There is an increase in injuries over the summer as a day on the ATV or at the pool can quickly turn into a scary event if youâ€™re not careful. In the midst of summer fun, make sure to still be on alert and stay safe. Here are some things you can do to prevent adding to the number of unintentional injuries seen in emergency rooms this summer.
Prevent a Spike in Summer Injuries
Several factors add the increased likelihood of injury during the summer. One factor is simply how much longer the sun is up. With extended daylight and warmer temperatures, people stay outside enjoying their favorite activities longer. This means more fishing, more boating, more sports, more swimmingâ€”and more chances for injury to happen. A second factor is the sheer expanded variety of activities. Especially in northern states like Minnesota where snow and ice limit outdoor activities (and the desire to even be outside) in the winter months, summer is a time to be outside and doing as much as possible from May through August.
This is the same time of year, however, that 42 percent of annual unintentional deaths occur. Deaths and injuries during the summer happen from some favorite pastimesâ€”swimming, bike riding and fun motor vehicles like ATVs or jet skis. Drowning, falls and wandering into traffic account for some of the most accidents during the summer. However, injuries can also happen during some activities you wouldnâ€™t expect to be as dangerous, e.g., gardening. Exerting yourself in extreme heat while doing your weekend yard work or home repair can also land you in the emergency room.
Forbes identified concussions, broken arms and lacerations as the most common summer injuries spurring from a variety of activities. Falls from monkey bars, scooters and bikes account for a slew of casts and stitches every summer. And as far as gardening is concerned, extreme sunburn, heat stroke and lacerations are all very possible risks you take on when beginning your weekend of yard maintenance.
How to Prepare for and Avoid Summer Injuries
While injuries are bound to happen at some point or another, the Urgency Room has some summertime tips to help you identify risks and prepare if injury occurs to you or those around you. And if injury should happen, make sure you know where your nearest Urgency Room is in Eagan, Vadnais Heights and Woodbury in order to be seen in a fraction of the time than if you went elsewhere.
- Wear Protective Gear
Wearing necessary protective gear is the easiest way to stay safe during many summer activities. Nearly â€œthree-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injuryâ€ in New York City alone, and 40,272 cycling head injuries of children 14 and younger were seen in emergency rooms in 2009. Those figures account for only head injuries, but donâ€™t forget other protective gear that can be worn while cycling: elbow pads, knee pads and even wrist guards for especially small children trying to ride a bike.
Protective gear for bike riding isnâ€™t where you should stop, though. While helmets, knee pads, wrist guards and elbow pads are what may come to mind at first, donâ€™t forget other gear like life jackets, seat belts, child-designated seats, sunscreen and more. Each of these elements can save lives during your summer activities. Never go into water without a life jacket and always apply sunscreen if youâ€™ll be outside for a prolonged period of time. Remember, even if the sun isnâ€™t out, damaging UV rays can still cause sunburn.
- Pace Yourself
Pacing yourself could be key to a successful summer day. Whether youâ€™re starting a day of vigorous yard work or are about to head out to a pickup game of flag football, exerting too much energy could hurt you later. Strains, sprains and muscles that havenâ€™t been properly stretched in the excitement of summer activities could land you in an Urgency Roomâ€”and weâ€™d much rather you spent your summer enjoying the outdoors.
Pacing yourself means taking water breaks often and not overworking yourself, especially in the glaring sun or muggy humidity. Avoid heatstroke and be aware if you start to feel dizzy or nauseated. Take frequent breaks in especially grueling heat and if it becomes too much, choose for a cooler indoor activity until the heat subsides.
- Be Aware
Awareness during the summer can mean a few things. When it comes to yourself, be aware of your surroundings. Always be on the watch for motor vehicles who might not see you on your bike or even boaters who might not see you swimming. Knowing your surroundings is always a good idea to further avoid trouble and potential injury. Know your limitations, too, especially if you have another medical need such as asthma or a severe allergy. When you start to run short of breath or notice a nearby beehive, steer clear of pushing yourself more or heading into dangerâ€”the repercussions could be irreversible.
If you have children, youâ€™ll have to be aware for them, too. Youâ€™ll have to be on alert for if they wander into dangerous scenarios, like busy streets or water thatâ€™s too deep. Being aware of their physical limitations is a good way to prevent injury as well. Maybe your child is too small to play soccer with older kids or maybe they donâ€™t have the motor skills to handle things like monkey bars, yet. If your child goes into these situations unprepared, they are at an increased risk of injury. Keep them safe by knowing where they are whether youâ€™re at the beach or playing in the park with friends.
- Be Prepared if Injuries should Happen
If injuries do happen, whether big or small, be prepared. Check your first aid kitâ€”is it missing any essentials? Your personal first aid kit at home should include:
- Adhesive bandages of varying sizes
- Sterile gauze pads
- Roll of gauze
- Adhesive medical tape
- Elastic (stretchy) bandages for wrapping strains and sprains
- Cotton balls / cotton-tipped swabs
- Finger splint
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Various medications for pain, nausea, upset stomachs, etc.
These are the bare minimum for what your first aid kit or medicine cabinet should hold. And when youâ€™re out and about, make sure to carry some basic essentials such as antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages and antibiotic creams. If you need an inhaler or Epinephrine pen, make sure to always have those in tow as well.
When Summer Turns Dangerous, Come to the Urgency Room
If a summer injury needs more medical care than what your first aid kit can provide, come into your nearest Urgency Room. Each location is highly accessible and conveniently located. Weâ€™re also open 365 days of the yearâ€”that means weâ€™ll be here even if you burn yourself during your infamous Sunday barbecue.