As temperatures heat up and more people are heading out to enjoy summer activities, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.
“Swimming, biking, and other sports and leisure activities are all excellent ways to both get exercise and enjoy the great outdoors,” said Karen Kepler, M.D., Director of Neurocognitive Rehabilitation of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. “But the risk for strains, sprains and bone fractures, as well as more serious brain and spinal cord injuries and heat-related problems increases.”
Whether you are at home or on vacation, at the pool, the beach, the mountains or the lake, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take the necessary precautions to avoid injury.
Kessler Institute, a national leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, offers the following tips to help both adults and children stay safe this summer:
- In the swim: Always check the depth of a pool, lake, ocean or stream before swimming or diving and never dive into less than five feet of water. Be particularly aware of sandbars and other underwater changes. Pay attention around ladders, docks or other structures, and equipment, as they can present a variety of hazards. Keep in mind, too, that water and alcohol don’t mix. A majority of water-related injuries, particularly spinal cord injuries, typically happen in social settings.
- On the road: With more people on the road during the summer months, accidents and injuries increase. Remember that both adults and children need to always wear seatbelts and younger children must be in an appropriate car seat. Do not use cells phones or text while driving and stay focused on the road. Avoid being distracted by passengers, the radio or other motorists. Parents should also discuss the rules of the road with their teenage drivers as accidents and injuries among younger age groups also rise in the summer.
Adults and children of all ages should also be careful when out walking. Children should be taught (and adults need to remember!) to look both ways when crossing and walk not run across the street. Use sidewalks whenever possible. And finally, avoid walking and talking on a cell phone or texting to prevent falls or other potential injuries.
- On wheels: Always wear a proper-fitting helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or rollerblades. Studies have found that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the likelihood of suffering a serious brain injury in the event of an accident, in some cases by up to 90 percent. Chinstraps should be secure and tight enough to only allow one finger between strap and chin and should be adjusted to keep the helmet over the forehead. Similarly, choose a bike that is a proper size and check it periodically to ensure that the tires, brakes and other mechanisms are in good condition. Skateboarders and rollerbladers should also consider knee, elbow and/or wrist pads or gloves shoulder pads are recommended to help protect against fractures and other injuries.
- On the playground: Parents and/or caregivers should check swings, slides and other equipment to make sure it is in good condition, and that children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap a finger other body part. The protective surface of the playground should be constructed of rubber, sand or other soft material that can reduce the risk of injury in the event of a fall. Make sure children’s clothing is playground-friendly – remove strings on shirts, jackets or pants so that they cannot get caught on equipment and have the child wear sneakers or closed-toed shoes rather than sandals or flip-flops for protection again injury and better footing.
- In the heat: Staying hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of a heat-related illnesses. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes and try to stay in the shade or air conditioning during the hottest part of the day. Heatstroke is serious and symptoms may include dizziness, trouble breathing, nausea and rapid heartbeat, confusion and changes in blood pressure. Children and the elderly are generally more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and should be closely monitored.