Summer Safety 101: Steer Clear of the ER

strong>By Michael Seifu, RN, Director of Emergency Department, Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Summer’s here and so are the hot-weather health hazards that keep emergency departments hopping. As a health care professional, how can you help your patients, friends, and family members learn how to be injury- and accident -free? The answer is by brushing up on your summer safety tips. Here are the top 10:

1. Wear a helmet. An estimated 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented by wearing helmets. Bicycling, skateboarding, riding motorcycles or recreational vehicles, and contact sports are all helmet-worthy activities.

2. Wear protective gear. Seat belts top the list, so no matter what, buckle-up. Wrist and knee protectors, eye goggles or sunglasses, and work gloves can also prevent a host of sprains, strains, and traumatic injuries.

3. Avoid high-risk behavior. Seems like common sense, but it pays to follow the speed limit and avoid driving while intoxicated. If thrill-seeking activities like rock climbing or skydiving are on the agenda, be sure to ask the professionals for safety precautions.

4. Respect the elements and know personal limits. If a patient hasn’t been outdoors all summer, he or she shouldn’t spend a whole day outside doing yard work or

sports. Pregnant women should minimize their heat exposure as well.

5. Stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. The recommended daily water intake is eight to ten 8-ounce glasses. During heat waves, add an extra quart of water.

6. Don’t drink alcohol, for a lot of reasons. Alcohol dehydrates the body, but it can also lower inhibition and increase carelessness. Boating and driving accidents and risky behavior as a result of too much alcohol can lead straight to the ER.

7. Don’t leave kids or animals in the car. Even if it’s 80 degrees outside, the interior of a car can rise to over 100 degrees in less than 30 minutes. It is never safe to leave a child or pet in the car during the summer.

8. All hands on deck around water. Drownings happen in a heartbeat. Always have a watchful eye on children in the pool or at the lake. Install a child-safety fence around the pool. Know how deep or shallow the water is to avoid head injuries. Have children wear life jackets in lakes and rivers.

9. Supervise fireworks, campfires, and outdoor grills. Burns are common in the summer so a responsible adult should be in charge, especially when fireworks or sparklers are around.

10. Avoid falls by taking extra precautions. Make sure ladders are steady and tell people not to over-extend their reach. Many people end up in the ER after trying to trim one last tree branch. And as tempting as it sounds, no tree-climbing.

At Methodist Health System, we want everyone to have fun and be safe this summer. If you’d like to be part of the sparkling team that helps make that happen, visit


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