Summer Safety: A Little Common Sense Makes a Big Difference
People attempting to break the type of cabin fever that plagued the area during a brutal winter often end up fracturing bones - or worse - in their haste to enjoy long-awaited summer warmth.
"Most of the time, these injuries result from errors in judgment, as people are lulled into a false sense of security because the weather is nice," said Stevan Vuckovic, DO, a Franciscan Health Emergency Department physician in Munster, Indiana. "We see people taking unnecessary risks."
Oft-seen injuries, Vuckovic said, include:
- Cuts and fractures, which can result from falls related to cycling, rollerblading and car accidents. "People think that because there is no snow, they don’t have to be as cautious while driving," Vuckovic said. "Texting also causes accidents. Motorists also need to be more conscious of motorcycles and joggers - watch out for them and give them extra room." He also sees cases of people falling off roofs while attempting repairs.
- Overexposure to the sun. "We see bad sunburns because people didn't protect themselves properly. Use appropriate sunscreens and utilize shade."
- Back yard pool mishaps. "People decide to jump or dive in from higher distances. They miscalculate and can end up breaking their necks."
- Insect bites and stings. "Most of the time, the affected area will become swollen, turn red and can feel hot to the touch - that is the body fighting off the venom and those will usually go away on their own in a week. Ice packs and Benadryl can provide relief, without needing medical attention." A trip to the emergency room is urged for people who experience a change in voice tone, get a swollen tongue or lips or experience respiratory distress. "Those can be life threatening cases," Vuckovic warned.
- Careless use of fireworks. "Leave those to the pros. Even an innocuous firework can cause serious burns and eye injuries."
But not all injuries require a trip to a hospital emergency room.
"Our Franciscan ExpressCare (non-emergency) and other urgent and immediate care locations can treat bumps and bruises, fevers and colds, and sprains and strains," Vuckovic said. "People should go to the hospital in cases where a limb is pointing in the wrong direction, or there is an open wound with a broken bone, or more obviously serious cases."
Vuckovic also urges parents to be especially aware of what their young children are doing outdoors. "We see accidental drowning, or kids being hit by cars. Parents need to keep a watchful eye on them.
"Summer and the outdoors are meant for having fun, but use common sense to keep you out of the emergency department, so you can enjoy more of the summer. It’s no fun to spend six weeks in a cast."
By Bill Bero
Manager, Media Relations & Publications, Franciscan Health - Northwest Indiana