Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Trauma Expert Offers Tips for a Safe, Healthy Summer

Lake Forest Hospital July 01, 2011

LAKE FOREST, IL – For emergency departments throughout the country, the summer brings an increased number of traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, cuts, burns and bites. Physicians now commonly refer to these accidents as “unintentional traumas”—traumatic injuries that can often be prevented by learning about causes and practicing precaution.

“Emergency rooms tend to treat more traumatic injuries during the summer months because kids are out of school, and children and adults typically spend more time outdoors doing physical activities,” said Michael Peters, MD, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. “We have found that educating patients is a key way to prevent traumatic injuries.”

To help families prepare for and prevent possible injuries, Dr. Peters shares tips for safe and healthy summer fun.

Sports-related injuries

Sports injuries can result from all types of outdoor activities and tend to increase during the summer when more people are outside playing. Sports injuries include fractures, neck and back injuries, muscle tears, cuts and scrapes, and heat exhaustion. To stay ahead of possible issues, remain hydrated, wear a helmet or other protective equipment when applicable and avoid overexertion.

Water-related injuries

These types of injuries can result from boating, swimming and diving accidents, and can cause drowning and neck, back, spinal cord and other long-term physical injuries. To avoid water-related accidents, take caution in ponds, lakes and rivers where there is no depth indication, have someone with you at all times and do not consume alcohol in or around water.

Pedestrian-related injuries

Motor vehicle injuries happen year round, but pose an increased danger during the summer months when more people are outside near roadways. Pedestrians must exercise caution when crossing busy streets and should make an effort to remain visible. Heavy or dangerous home equipment, including lawn mowers, ladders, and other tools, also cause more injuries during the summer months. Exercise caution and follow all safety instructions when operating this equipment.

Animal, insect and plant injuries

With the summer season comes more exposure to animal and plant wildlife. This can commonly lead to bites, stings and allergic reactions, so it is vital to know what types of injuries to expect and how to treat them. Dog bites are common among young children who may not know to stay away from unfamiliar dogs. Wooded areas can bring an increased risk for injury because there is potential for contact with unidentified plants such as poison ivy and animals. Insects such as bees and mosquitoes can also cause complications if not treated properly. To avoid unwanted stings, bites and other injury, use precaution, see an allergist and carry medicine at all times throughout the summer months.

Alcohol-related injuries

Alcohol makes any activity more likely to lead to trauma if it is not consumed in moderation. Alcohol consumption inhibits your balance and judgment and limits peoples’ abilities to protect themselves. When consuming alcohol, stay hydrated, use caution and do not operate cars or machinery.

“Traumatic injury is very predictable and preventable with the right information,” said Peters. “It is vital to know what can go wrong so that you avoid potentially dangerous situations and enjoy your summer. A general awareness of your surroundings can go a long way toward keeping you safe.”

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital runs an injury prevention education program year-round, focused on providing information to emergency department visitors on the importance of predicting and avoiding dangerous circumstances. Each month, the hospital focuses on a different seasonal injury prevention topic that emergency staff member promote through posters and brochures. This month’s topic is bicycle safety. Learn more about Lake Forest Hospital Emergency Medicine.

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