The warm summer weather brings most of us outdoors to engage in a number of pastimes and recreational activities. Due to the fact that the days are longer and many people are more active than they might otherwise be in the colder months more visits to urgent care centers and hospital emergency rooms occur. Most of these injuries are avoidable so it is important to learn what they are and what we can do to prevent them.
Overheating and heat-related illnesses are the leading cause of summertime emergency room and walk-in clinic visits. These cases range from mild dehydration to severe heatstroke to more deadly complications. Some of the early warning signs of overheating could include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and confusion. You should also be careful between 2 and 4 PM which, historically, are the hottest times of the day.
Because many people head to the ocean, lakes, ponds, or pools in the warm summer months there are a great number of water-related injuries which could include drowning, paralysis due to jumping and falling causing some type of significant trauma to the spine, and boating accidents.
Weekend warriors who do not engage in physical activities during the week, show up at emergency rooms and walk-in clinics suffering from broken bones, sprains and strains, head injuries, spinal injuries, and other significant injuries caused by sports-related activities.
Surprisingly, food poisoning is something that frequently brings individuals to the emergency room during the summer. People go to barbecues, picnics, beach parties, and other outdoor activities where food is served. Many times, the hot temperatures, humid conditions, and bugs provide the perfect environment for bacteria to rapidly multiply. Fruits or vegetables that are not properly washed can also cause poisoning.
There are also a number of skin-related problems that bring people to the emergency room which involve cuts and burns, sunburned and skin poisoning, insect, snake and tick bites, poison ivy or poison oak, and allergic reactions from a number of different causes.
So what can be done to reduce the number of hospital emergency room and walk-in clinic visits? Make sure when children are involved that they are properly supervised, especially around water. If children are swimming make sure they have lifejackets on if they are not particularly good swimmers. Always exercise a great deal of caution in whatever activities you are engaged in especially if they present some large risk of injuries such as boating or swimming.
Use sunscreen often. If you are going out into the woods, if you are going for a hike, or if you are running around in the grass, make sure you check yourself for ticks. Be aware of your surroundings so you will notice any dangerous conditions or things that should be avoided.
Utilize good food preparation and handling practices. Do not leave food out for long periods of time in the sun especially that contain ingredients that can spoil. Make sure you are properly hydrated with water and limit the number of alcoholic beverages you consume. Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of your body, be aware of those around you.
These are the days that we are supposed to enjoy with our family and friends in the beautiful out-of-doors. We have seen far too many cases involving significant injuries and even death that occurred during the summer months. Please be careful and watch out for each other, oh, and don't forget, to have fun.