Tips for staying out of the ERWritten by Lori Golaszewski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to enjoy summer fun without getting injured, common sense and extra precaution can help you avoid a trip to the emergency room, according to Dr. Dave Johnson of the Emergency Department at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.
Emergency room visits typically increase during the summer because people spend more time outdoors, Johnson said. As a result, there is a greater potential for automobile, motorcycle or bike accidents, and serious injuries associated with them. The severity of injuries could be lessened if a safety belt or helmet is used, Johnson said.
“We’re talking about closed-head injuries, particularly those involved in motorcycle accidents where the patient wasn’t wearing a helmet,” he explained. “Oftentimes, we’ll see patients that have been drinking heavily and driving way too fast without a seat belt, which obviously results in bad outcomes, such as broken bones or even death.”
Johnson said the likelihood of adults winding up in the ER because of alcohol-related incidents rises during the summer because individuals combine drinking with activities like driving, boating or water skiing.
“In the summer, there are just more activities with alcohol involved, and that’s why we see an increased incidence of alcohol-related injuries,” he said. “For serious injuries, the one thing that could probably prevent a lot of what we see is responsible drinking or no drinking. People seem to forget that when you’re doing an activity where you can get hurt anyway, such as water skiing. You probably shouldn’t be drinking along with it.”
Because children spend more time outdoors in the summer, they are more prone to injuries than during the wintertime, according to Johnson. Playground accidents, children being hit by cars while riding their bikes or running around, near drownings and dog bites account for the main reasons kids need emergency treatment.
“If I had to say one thing that would reduce the number of pediatric accidents,” Johnson said, “it would be parental supervision. Being aware that your child is a potential walking ER visit is good for the parents to know.”
Individuals seeking treatment for sunburns and heat-related illnesses are also common in the ER. To avoid being a casualty of the sun, protection is the key, he said. Wear a hat; use sunscreen; avoid excessive alcohol use, and most importantly, stay hydrated and seek shelter from the sun as much as possible.
“People who need to work outside for long periods should stay hydrated and take frequent breaks out of the sun in a cooler area. That will cool your body down so that it can function,” Johnson said.
“Also, be aware that certain medications, particularly heart medications, can set you up for heat-related problems.”
Johnson said the elderly are more prone to heat-related illnesses than the general population because of their age, the medications they may be taking and a lack of air conditioning or appropriate way to cool themselves within their living arrangements.
Individuals are advised to frequently check on elderly relatives or neighbors, especially during late summer when temperatures reach their peak.
Bee stings, which most often occur in late summer and early fall when bees are more aggressive, also account for ER visits, Johnson said.
Those with known allergies to bees should carry a bee sting kit containing an EpiPen with them at all times.
If you get stung by a bee or other insect that results in swelling at the site or shortness of breath, seek medical attention immediately, Johnson said.