Although we generally associate summer with vacations and leisure, we should also be aware that the summer months are when the most injuries occur. The emergency department treats more injuries over the summer than any other time of the year. So it is important to know some of the common causes of injury to adults over the summer and how to keep yourself out of harm’s way:
- Automobile accidents. This is the most common injury that brings adults into the ER during the summer. With school out and people traveling, there are more cars on the road. Many of these drivers are on summer break from school and do not have much experience, which leads to more crashes. Drivers should be aware of the increased risk and stay alert at all times to prevent accidents.
- Drowning. More time is spent in and around the water during the summer months, which leads to more accidents and more deaths due to drowning. You should never swim alone, and you should be aware of your physical limitations. Over-doing it can lead to drowning due to fatigue or cramps. Also, avoid alcohol in the water, as alcohol is involved in 50% of drownings among young adult males. Alcohol can lead to dangerous behavior around the water.
- Other water hazards. Diving into bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or oceans is a common source of injury to the spinal cord, including paralysis. It is difficult to judge the depth of the water, and it can be hard to see objects that may be hidden under the water’s surface. It is best to jump feet first. Also, when walking along a beach or riverbank, watch for discarded fish hooks, as they can get implanted in your feet, causing a potentially serious puncture wound.
- Bicycling. More than 95% of people killed in bicycle accidents were not wearing helmets, yet most adults do not wear them. An easy way to help prevent a head injury is to simply wear a bike helmet; helmets reduce the risk of injury by 85%.
- Yard work and house work. Lawn mower blades are dangerous, so wear close-toed shoes and clear the area of debris before starting. When using a ladder, have someone hold it for you and position it away from doorways and electrical wires.
- Lightning. The National Weather Service advises that if there is less than 30 seconds between when you see the flash and when you hear the thunder, then the storm is within 6 miles and is dangerous. You should seek shelter and wait at least 30 minutes after the storm to return outside.
- Foodborne Illnesses. Keep foods cold if you are taking them outside for a picnic or a cook-out. When they reach the temperature of the environment, they will grow bacteria which can make you sick.
- Camp fires. Never leave a camp fire unattended, and position the campfire in a clear area, away from the tent. Avoid wearing loose clothing when starting the fire, and make sure to completely douse the fire with water when you are done.
Keep these important safety concerns in mind over the summer months to avoid having to make a trip to the ER for an injury. Don’t take unneccesary risks and think about the potential dangers of an activitiy before starting it.