How To Have An Injury-Free Summer

Know the accidents most likely to require an emergency department visit in the summer—and how to avoid them.

Emergency Department (ED) visits tend to spike in the summer, and this season will likely be no exception. “We’ve been dealing with COVID-19 restrictions for a long time, and when kids and adults start getting back to doing activities they haven’t done in a while, it can lead to injuries,” says Eric Handler, DO, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. He outlines the most commonly seen injuries in the ED in the summer:

TRAMPOLINE INJURIES. Trampoline accidents can easily lead to serious injuries like concussions and fractures. “Be sure not to overcrowd the trampoline,” Dr. Handler advises, “and always have a net surrounding it to prevent falls.”

BICYCLE AND OTHER “WHEELED SPORTS” INJURIES. A properly fitted helmet can decrease the risk of head and brain injuries by up to 88 percent. Elbow and knee pads are recommended for skating, skateboarding and scootering, especially for beginners.

WATER INJURIES. Every day, 10 people die from unintentional drowning, and two of these are aged 14 or under, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning can occur in small amounts of water and even to good swimmers. At the beach, pay attention to flags to avoid riptides. Swim where lifeguards are present, avoid alcohol and make sure children are supervised at all times.

HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES. Heat cramps (heavy sweating, muscle pain or spasms) and heat exhaustion (dizziness or fainting, nausea, clammy skin, fast, weak pulse) are often seen in the ED, Dr. Handler says. If you have heat-related symptoms, stop what you’re doing, find a place to cool down and hydrate until the symptoms dissipate. If your symptoms persist for an hour, or if you have chest pain, call 911.

PLAYGROUND INJURIES. The most common playground injuries arise from falls or from going down slides. Supervise children closely and avoid playgrounds that are on hard surfaces, like concrete or hard-packed soil.

SPORTS INJURIES. Many overuse injuries—often in the shoulders, elbows and knees—occur in adults and children who haven’t had much physical activity for a while. Warm up your muscles before any activity. If you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time, see your doctor for a checkup before returning to exercise.

FIREWORKS-RELATED INJURIES. ED visits spike around the Fourth of July, primarily due to fireworks. “If something is lit but doesn’t go off, leave it alone for at least 15 minutes, and then pour water on it to make sure it’s fully extinguished,” recommends Dr. Handler. Avoid holding fireworks in your hands—use a long lighter instead—and never dispose of fireworks without covering them in plenty of water.

To learn more about Saint Barnabas Medical Center or for a physician referral, visit ww.rwjbh.org/saintbarnabas.