With the 4th of July holiday week coming up, experts at Mayo Clinic are offering up some injury prevention tips on some of the most common reasons that send people to the emergency department this time of year.
Consume alcohol in moderation. Imbibing too much alcohol can lead to questionable decision-making, slowed reflexes and false confidence – traits that are dangerous in nearly any outdoor activity during the summer months.
Never assume a campfire or bonfire is completely out. On more than one occasion, fire-happy campers have been known to dump gasoline or other extremely flammable liquids on fires that look like they are out or smoldering and ended up with third-degree burns. Children and adults make trips to the emergency room every summer after stepping into fire pits they thought were cool.
Always wear a helmet when biking, motorcycling, horseback riding or on an ATV. This is like wearing a seat belt in a car – an absolute must. Riders of all kinds can sustain serious injuries in an accident, but survival chances grow exponentially when a helmet is worn.
Be extra alert when operating a boat or personal watercraft. Watch out for other boaters, water-skiers and swimmers. Every year, patients are brought to the emergency department after getting tangled up in a boat propeller. And always wear a life jacket.
Avoid fireworks. Even sparklers – thought to be relatively safe – can lead to blindness and serious burns. Other larger fireworks can leave users without fingers and even limbs. Hearing loss is common among fireworks users as well. Children must be closely supervised at all times around any kind of fireworks.
Journalists: The 'Saving Lives With Gus' video and sound bites with Dr. Jenkins are available in the downloads.
/// Sound Bite SUMMER SAFETY INJURY PREVENTION (Dr. Donald Jenkins, Mayo Clinic Trauma Expert)
"If you go out and you ride your motorcycle too fast and you’re not wearing a helmet and the proper protective equipment. If you’re intoxicated and climbing up on a ladder. If you’re not watching your child around the lawn mower, those aren't accidents. Those are injuries that were sustained that were preventable." TRT :20
While a backyard fireworks display may seem fun, Mayo Clinic physicians are advising everyone to leave them to the professionals. Each year, Mayo Clinic doctors see dozens of patients with severe injuries as a direct result of using fireworks, including severe burns and hearing loss. Dr. Jenkins says it's common for him to treat hand and facial injuries this time of year.
/// Sound Bite SUMMER SAFETY FIREWORKS INJURIES(Dr. Donald Jenkins, Mayo Clinic Trauma Expert)"It’s because they’re getting up close to the firework or they’re lighting the firework and the fuse is too short or they hold onto it for too long a period of time. And it explodes in their hand. It can cause facial burns, eye injuries and amputation of fingers or the hand." TRT :19
Dr. Jenkins says fire pits and campfires also send a lot of people to the hospital in the summertime. Even when the campfire burns down to ashes, treat it with caution.
/// Sound BiteSUMMER SAFETY CAMPFIRE INJURIES(Dr. Donald Jenkins, Mayo Clinic Trauma Expert) "People stumble and fall into the fire pit and get burned, children especially. And again, those who have probably had too much to drink are at greatest risk. We see dozens of patients with burn injuries related to those kind of things." TRT :16
Finally, Dr. Jenkins says whether you're riding motorcycles or bicycles, skateboarding or horseback riding, many tragedies could be prevented by wearing a helmet to protect against lifelong disability from traumatic brain injury.