Summer is a time for outdoor adventures, travel and relaxation. But among health professionals, it’s known as “trauma season”—with good reason. With summer comes an influx in health risks and emergency room visits.
Don’t let your summer get derailed by trips to the ER. Protect yourself and your loved ones by being aware of these most common reasons for summer ER visits, and how to reduce your risk.
A sunburn may sound pretty innocent compared to most things we consider major injuries, but a serious sunburn is not only painful, but also very dangerous.
Beyond increasing your risk for skin cancer later for life, a major sunburn can lead to sun poisoning, a serious condition with symptoms including dehydration, headaches, fever, nausea, confusion, and skin infections. If a person experiences these serious symptoms of sun poisoning, it’s time to get to the hospital.
To reduce your risk, always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours while outside. As much as possible, avoid being out in the sun when it’s strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Children under six months old should never be exposed to the sun. For children younger than a year old, always treat a sunburn as an emergency.
One of the top symptoms people report as a cause for their ER visit is dizziness, one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. It’s a serious summer health issue that can be caused by prolonged periods out in the heat and/or sun.
Additional symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, little or no urination, shriveled skin, fever, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, confusion, and in the most serous cases, delirium.
To guard against dehydration, avoid spending long periods in the sun, especially during its peak hours between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol, as well as drinks high in sugar or caffeine.
Babies and the elderly are at especially high risk for dehydration, as are individuals on certain medications such as diuretics or blood pressure medications.
There are two reasons why food poisoning incidents increase in the summer. First, summer’s high temperatures are an ideal environment that allows the bacteria that causes food poisoning to thrive. Secondly, there’s a lot more outdoor cooking in summer, which means people are away from the kitchen’s controlled environment and the tools that usually help them guard against food poisoning risks.
Symptoms of food poisoning can include cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. To protect against food poisoning, follow all standard food safety guidelines no matter where you cook, and refrigerate leftovers right after eating—never eat food items including egg, milk, seafood or meat if they have been unrefrigerated for more than an hour in temperatures over 90° F.
Between slippery decks, deep waters, and a lot of horsing around, it’s easy to see how pools can become high-risk zones.
A person can drown within a matter of minutes. It’s important to always have a responsible adult supervising play carefully—and, ideally, in the pool themselves.
It’s best for children to wear life jackets any time they are swimming, and basic safety rules like no running or diving should always be upheld to reduce the risk of falls and slips. When in the pool, keep a phone nearby in case you need to dial 911.
And learn CPR—it’s one o the best things you can do to stay safe in the water. In those long minutes between when a crisis occurs and an ambulance arrives, your skills can be the difference between life and death.
Summer is a great time for kids to play outside. But know the risks, and do what you can to protect them while they play.
Trampolines, for example, can lead to a wide range of serious injuries, including sprains, fractures and concussions. Children should only play on trampolines while under careful adult supervision, and only with precautions like safety netting in place.
Bikes, scooters, skateboards and other outdoor toys come with real risks, too. Children (and everyone) should wear a helmet while using them, and an adult should be present in case of a fall. Children should also wear sturdy shoes that cover their whole feet while playing, and be aware of traffic and safety rules.
Safe Summers are More Fun
With all the fun and adventure summer has to offer, the last thing you and your loved ones want to do is waste time in the ER. The best way to ensure you spend that time together—and not with a doctor—is to be aware of the season’s greatest risk factors, and take precautions to stay safe.
Armed with this knowledge, you can kick back and focus on enjoying all summer has to offer!