Summer is just around the corner and with all of the fun comes new risks. Whether you’re celebrating the hot summer sun at the beach, in the pool with family and friends, or in your garden, you’ll want to stay aware of the top five summer injuries and how to prevent them.
From dehydration to severe heat stroke, heat-related illnesses are the cause of fewer than 1,000 deaths each year in the US. Even still, the more mild symptoms of too much sun exposure (nausea, dizziness, headaches, and confusion,) are fairly common during these summer months.
The warmest hours of the day are between 2 and 4 pm, so it’s important to be mindful of this. Similarly, remember to stay hydrated before you head outdoors. Avoid being outside for too long during high temperatures. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing or a hat, and never, ever leave anyone in a parked car as this is the most common cause of heat-related deaths in children.
Burns and Sunburn
Burns are common in the summer months due to typical summer activities like grilling, camping, and making smores. Children are likely to try and touch open flames or cooking grills while adults often use lighter fluid on hot coals. As far as sunburn, it’s common for people to forgo sunscreen in lieu of a sick tan – or worse, simply forget to reapply.
Never leave fires, stoves, or hot liquids unattended, especially when there are children around. Create a fire escape plan and remember to set limits on your hot water thermostat in order to prevent scalding burns. Remember that fires can burn long after ignition, so be cognizant when resetting logs the day after a campfire. Apply sunscreen generously and often. Every two hours is the recommended amount, but if you’re swimming or sweating, you should reapply more frequently.
Insect Bites and Skin Irritations
The summer is when the creepy-crawlies and skin irritants come out to play. Wild plants like poison ivy, sumac, and oak are more common the more time we spend outside for obvious reasons and so are insect and tick bites. In some cases, these bites can go from relatively harmless to infected. An antibiotic is required in these instances.
Keep an eye on bumps and swelling that seems to grow or last too long. Wear insect repellent, check for ticks after a long day of outdoor activities, and do not scratch your bites for risk of further contamination.
During the summer, gastrointestinal issues often send patients to the ER or to walk-in clinics. Foodborne illnesses peak during this time due to heat and humidity, which make for the perfect conditions for bacteria to breed and multiply. Foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 to 110 °F. It can also be found in the environment, like the air and the water, on our bodies or our furry friends, and even in food. The culprit for this peak isn’t just due to bacteria, however. The other simple reason that food poisoning is one of the top five summer injuries is that it is more difficult to handle food safely when cooking outdoors.
Wash fruits and vegetables, don’t leave out the meat, and always make sure that it’s properly cooked before consumption. This is always a rule of thumb but wash your hands and surfaces thoroughly before eating and cooking in order to prevent the spread of germs. Don’t cross-contaminate your food – wrap raw meats when packing the cooler to keep their other foods from being exposed to their juices.
Refrigerate your food promptly and properly, which means paying strict attention to the amount of time your food is left out. The general rule of thumb is two hours, but when the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out for more than an hour.
Lawn Mower Injuries
Number four in the top five summer injuries is lawn mower-related injuries. People show up to the emergency room in droves over fractures and lacerations they received from the spinning blades of a lawn mower due to improper care and reckless use.
Be careful and obviously, keep your hands away from sharp edges and blades on your lawn mower. Keep children away from lawn mowers and supervise teens who are operating on their own. Always mow forward and remember to pick up stones and other objects that may be hiding in the grass. Thrown objects can cause severe eye injuries among other things, so wear protective eyewear.
Sports-related injuries are one of the top five summer injuries. Sprains, twisted ankles, broken bones, overexertion. In the spring and summer months, these are more common simply because people are doing more outdoor activities. Because children and adults are more likely to be active, doctors and emergency rooms see a spike of sports-related injuries in these months.
Warm up before you do any sort of physical activity and stretch afterward. Take time to rest and recover between rounds and remember to listen to your body and know your limits. There’s no sense in risking something serious for the sake of a moment of fun. Proper form is also key. Treating these injuries is easy in some cases as they typically require some home care. Remember RICE. Rest, ice, compress and elevate. If your symptoms persist, it’s best to take a trip to the doctor.
26,000 children and adolescents are treated for head injuries related to biking every year. Most of these are taking place through the summer months. A helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by 70% according to a 2016 study. Make sure that you’re equipped with a helmet that fits properly and that you follow all traffic rules and laws when you ride. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing to be more visible and follow signals, and if you’re riding during times of limited visibility,
Swimming Injuries (Drowning)
During this time of the year, boat injuries and trauma related to jumping into a body of water abound. There is also a huge spike in drowning-related deaths as the weather heats up. Drowning is the second most common caught of death by unintentional injury among children ages 1-4? Pay attention and designate an adult to supervise the water at parties and backyard barbecues. Do not dive in shallow water to prevent the risk of spinal cord injuries. Take stock of how shallow the water is before jumping in and taking a dip.
Summer can be a time of fun and sun or it can be a time of greater risk and exposure to a multitude of injuries. By following this guide, you’re sure to keep many of these risks at bay and have your best summer yet. You can’t prevent everything though, and in the event that you encounter one of these injuries, remember ABBA Medical Transportation!