Summer offers many opportunities for weekend fun. It’s become normal pastime to enjoy the warm weather under the sun, outdoors, and in the water. But having fun outside comes with risks for injuries and could lead to a trip to the ER.
“As summer ramps up, more and more pediatric ED visits are due to injury,” says Dr. Alexa Lewis, Sunrise Health Graduate Medical Education Consortium PGY-3 Emergency Medicine Resident. “Data from the Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project reports injury-related visits were far more prevalent from April through September compared to October through March. Common traumatic ED visits for children include incidents of bicycle accidents, falls, burns, motor vehicle collisions and drowning.”
Dr. Lewis discusses how safety can become a part of your summer plans.
Summer means water activities! Once you are in or near the water, you need to be thinking about safety for you and everyone around you.
- Dr. Lewis says, “Don’t lower your guard, especially when spending time in backyard pools. Drowning in children can also happen in just inches of water in a bathtub!”
- Never leave children unattended when they are near or in water. Parents should always practice touch supervision. Be close enough to reach out to the child at any time, be certified in CPR, and make sure the child is wearing an approved floatation device such as a life vest.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics supports swimming lessons for children ages one and older who show signs of pool readiness and are frequently exposed to water. Swim lessons may help reduce the risk of drowning down the line.
- Adults must be careful with alcohol and drug use. Wearing a life vest and minimizing use of mind altering substances while swimming and participating in water sports could greatly decrease the amount of water-related injuries that occur in adults.
It’s okay to enjoy the sun, but just be careful!
- Sunburns and dehydration generally go hand in hand. Children are especially prone to both conditions compared to adults, as they can easily get dehydrated and when they burn, seemingly small areas can have significant effect on their fluid balance.
- “Even just a few hours outside can cause life threatening dehydration and burns in children and the elderly,” says Dr. Lewis. “Often times asphalt can be up to 40-60oF warmer than the surrounding air temperature. Asphalt on a 100oF day can be between 140-160oF, which is more than the minimum required to cause a burn to skin. If not promptly removed from heat and rehydrated, serious complications such as electrolyte imbalances, kidney failure, burns, seizures, coma and even death can occur.”
Outdoor Safety (bike, playground, and bug/plant)
Playing outside can be fun until a fatal accident happens while riding a bike, playing on the playground, or simply enjoying the outdoors.
- Injuries from falls and pedestrian accidents while riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters and ATVs can range from bad scrapes and broken limbs to traumatic brain injuries, the leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents. If your child rides anything with wheels, insist they wear a helmet. MountainView Hospital advocates proper helmet safety, and shares the importance of picking the right helmet for you.
- Even when it’s not that hot outside, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety commission (CPSC) has found that plastic slides, swings and surface material can become hot enough to burn a child’s skin. Children age two and under are the most sensitive. Prevent playground burns by feeling the temperature of equipment first, before you let children play.
- Children should wear pants and shoes to prevent contact of bare skin with hot surfaces. Remove drawstrings from clothing that can catch on equipment, and check equipment for sharp points or edges to avoid injuries.
- In the Las Vegas area, many have dealt with pests and know how painful their stings can be! There are 25 species of scorpions in Nevada, but the Arizona bark scorpion is the most venomous in North America and a common pest in Las Vegas.
- “Generally, symptoms are more severe in children and elderly patients,” says Dr. Lewis. “Scorpion venom is neurotoxic, meaning it affects the nervous system, and can cause symptoms of sharp pain at the site, numbness and tingling, nausea, and swelling. More serious symptoms include muscle twitching, unusual head, neck and eye movements, severe drooling, sweating, vomiting, and an accelerated heart rate. Life threatening symptoms call for a trip to the hospital!”
- Jimson Weed is an aggressive and invasive weed present across Las Vegas. Dr. Lewis explains all parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids, which have hallucinogenic properties. If seeds are ingested, symptoms include confusion, hallucinations, fever, high heart rate, bizarre behavior, urinary retention, and dilated pupils. The onset of symptoms generally occurs around 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. If you have this plant on your property, always handle it with gloves and never ingest any of its parts. If any part of it is ingested, contact Poison Control and go to the nearest Emergency Department.
- In the case you or anyone around you experiences a bug bite or allergic reactions, immediately move from the source. A picture or description of the offending insect can be helpful in the treatment plan, but do not attempt to capture the insect or snap a picture of it if it poses any further threat.
- An ice pack on the affected area and an age-appropriate dose of antihistamines such as Benadryl will help the discomfort associated with most common summer insect bites.
- 9-1-1 should be called when there is concern for breathing, significant swelling of the face or neck, or if illness is detected and the patient is not acting appropriately. If there is ever any doubt, always better to be safe than sorry, and call to let a paramedic assess the situation.
Everyone knows about the dangers of drinking and driving, and this is certainly no time to attempt such a hazardous and illegal activity. Excessive alcohol consumption can be just as dangerous, so make intelligent choices if you choose to drink while enjoying the weekend.
- Drinking and driving dangers apply equally to boats and cars. If you are hitting the lake and manning watercraft, leave the alcohol at the shore. You need to be alert and focused so that you can avoid and respond to unexpected situations.
- Alcohol poisoning is very real, and if you are farther away from emergency care, especially with people who are not sober enough to transport you, you could put yourself in dangerous situations.
Don’t forget to put your safety first this summer! MountainView Hospital knows your health, especially any emergency-related symptoms, should not be ignored. If you are experiencing any life-threatening symptoms as mentioned by Dr. Lewis or any other symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention.