Summer’s the time we kick back and take it easy. But it’s also the season when accidents, health-related ailments, and visits to the ER peak. According to the Physician’s Money Digest, emergency visits increase 15 to 27 percent between spring and fall.
Nearly 213,000 people are treated each year in emergency departments for outdoor recreational-related injuries and ailments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Park Service also reports nearly 65,500 search and rescue incidents in U.S. National Parks and more than 2,600 fatalities every summer. About half of these fatalities are related to boating and swimming accidents.
“People tend to mistake being carefree for becoming careless,” Dr. David Farcy. chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of Emergency Medicine Critical Care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, tells Newsmax Health. “We see in insurgence of medical emergencies during the warm weather because people are spending more time outdoors.”
The good news is that most of these accidents could be avoided by taking simple precautions. Here are the most common summer health and safety risks, and what you can do avoid them:
Biking accidents. Most serious accident-related injuries occur when bikers don’t wear helmets, notes Dr. Kevin Rodgers, professor of clinical medicine at Indiana University and a member of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. “We see a lot of kids being injured falling off ATVs, which become very popular during the summer months,” he tells Newsmax Health. “No child under the age of 12 should operate an all terrain vehicle and everyone should wear helmets.” Older folks tend to have more serious bike injuries because of their brittle bones and anti-coagulant medicines.
Falls. People tend to catch up on home improvement projects and climb ladders to clean gutters, trim trees, or paint the house during summer months. In a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research, people older than 66 were 3.4 times more likely as younger people to suffer head injuring falling off a ladder. “If you are going to do outdoor repairs, make sure you are wearing the right shoes — no flip flops — and the right clothing for the job,” notes Farcy. “And if you aren’t sure of your footing, hire someone to assist you or do the work.”
Swimming and water-related accidents. Make sure that all children are supervised even if they are competent swimmers. If you are going to the ocean, stay near the lifeguard and observe the flag conditions that indicate potentially deadly rip currents or water hazards such as jelly fish. Keep a bottle of vinegar on hand to apply if someone does get stung by jelly fish. If you’re caught in a rip current, don’t fight it but swim parallel to the shore until it subsides, then head to shore. If you have a swimming pool at home, make sure that you use gloves when applying chemicals and protect your eyes. Keep all toxic chemicals safely locked away from children.
Boating accidents. There should be enough life jackets for every person on the vessel, says Farcy. “Most of the boating accidents occur when alcohol or drugs are involved,” he says. “If there will be drinking on the boat, appoint a designated driver.” And remember that you can become inebriated much faster basking in the hot sun.
Sunburn and skin cancer. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats if you are going to be spending a day in the sun. Make sure you bring enough water to stay hydrated. Apply sunscreen, preferable with titanium of zinc oxide base, every hour to provide a strong barrier against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Food poisoning. Outdoor picnics and barbecues can spell disaster if you don’t keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot, says Rodgers. “I go crazy when I see people eating potato salad or coleslaw made with mayonnaise that’s been left outside for hours,” he says. Food poisoning can be very serious, and if nausea and vomiting lasts for more than two days, you should see a doctor.
Insect bites. Use a bug repellant containing DEET for the best protection, says Farcy. If you are hiking in a forest, make sure that you wear long pants and sleeves to minimize skin exposure. Remove all standing water from around the house and utilize mosquito netting if you are camping. If any member of your family has a severe allergy to insect bites, carry an Epipen or keep Benadryl on hand to soothe an allergic response, says Farcy.
Lightning strikes. This summer hazard can be deadly and usually strikes people in groups. More than 700 people are struck by lightning each year and 70 are killed. Seek shelter immediately if black clouds approach and void touching anything metal. If a person is struck by lightning and stops breathing, give mouth to mouth immediately.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.