In the summer, whether on vacation or sticking close to home, people across the United States tend to be more active, go more places and try new things. Here’s how to avoid some common summertime hazards.
During the summertime, we see more injuries from amusement park accidents, transportation accidents like helicopter accidents, bicycle accidents, and cruise and passenger ship injuries. There are also more injuries from extreme sports and other activities.
Summertime Sports Injuries
When having fun, be safety-conscious and know your limits:
- Always use the appropriate safety gear. Have you noticed that professional athletes always use safety gear, such as helmets, gloves, correct shoes, shin and shoulder pads, etc.? They do that to prevent injury, so they can take the field again for the next game. “Weekend warriors” should follow their lead and suit up to prevent contact sports injuries so you can keep enjoying your summer.
- Remember to warm up and cool down by doing some stretches to prevent common sports injuries like muscle and ligament tears, sprains, strains or stress fractures.
- Stay hydrated, preferably with water, although sports drinks are also a good source of electrolytes if needed. Stay away from alcohol until the game or activity is over! Playing sports or performing other activities while drunk is an invitation to injury.
- Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Sure, it might be embarrassing to beg off from skydiving or bungee-jumping just because you have a bad feeling about the instructor or safety harness. But given the choice between embarrassment and the alternative, if you’re right, it’s probably worth a little ribbing at the bar later.
In the Research Your Destination section, we covered insects and animals. Camping presents other summertime hazards. If you’re taking a camping trip this summer, you should definitely read up on that. Other camping safety tips:
Choose your campsite based on your camping skills. If you’re a novice, consider a cabin or renting an RV, where you’ll have beds and access to running water. If you have a little experience with tent camping, you may want to reserve a site on a campground where you can pitch a tent but still have access to toilets, showers, and other amenities. Keep safety in mind when making your choice.
Check the weather so you know what to expect. Pack accordingly – if you’re going to an area where it will be mostly sunny, be sure to bring protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen. If it will get cold at night, bring lots of layers so you can bundle up. If you expect rain, bring waterproof gear.
Remember, only you can prevent forest fires; or fires in any location, for that matter. Only light fires in designated areas. Don’t light a fire within 15 feet of anything flammable, including tents, shrubs or trees. Dig a fire pit, or create one with large rocks. Keep a large bucket of water nearby, and douse your fire before you go to sleep. Never leave a fire unattended.
Don’t leave food out or unattended. To keep from attracting animals, and also to keep your food free of bacteria, store it in airtight, waterproof containers. Find out what the food storage requirements are for where you’re going, and make sure you follow them.
Stay hydrated, don’t drink alcohol to excess, and see the section below on sun safety.
Pack a first aid kit for summertime hazards, containing:
- Bandages – both adhesive and gauze & tape
- Antibiotic ointment or cream
- Alcohol or other antiseptic
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- recommended insect repellent
- Ibuprofen, acetaminophen or NSAIDs for inflammation or pain relief.
- Benadryl for allergic reactions, or an EpiPen for those with extreme allergies
- Cortisone cream for rashes or insect bites
- Cold packs/compresses
- Heat packs
- Emergency blanket
- Cell phone chargers
Sunburn is one of the most common summertime hazards. Most sunburns are first-degree or superficial burns; however, they can cause lasting skin damage and increase your risk of skin cancer. Young children especially should be protected from sunburn.
Whenever spending time in the daylight, even when cloudy, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above. Sunscreen only protects for so long, so after a couple of hours, go inside, seek shade, or cover up with long sleeves and pants. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UVA-UVB sunglasses to protect your head, neck, and eyes.
To avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion, try not to overexert yourself for an extended time in high temperatures. Take frequent breaks inside or in the shade, and drink plenty of water.
More people in the water means more summertime hazards resulting in recreational boat and personal watercraft injuries and drownings. Each year, about ten people per day die from drowning in the U.S. Even nonfatal drowning injuries can cause long-term disabilities.
Drowning can happen anywhere – oceans, lakes, ponds, and swimming pools. Many U.S. beaches post warnings about water conditions – pay attention, and follow the recommendations. Otherwise, use common sense. Watch what the locals are doing, or ask them how the water is. Unless you’re confident in your swimming skills, stay in areas monitored by lifeguards. Also be aware of dangerous ocean life, such as sharks, stingrays, or jellyfish.
One ocean danger is a rip current, a long, narrow band of rapidly-moving water that may pull swimmers away from shore. When caught in one, the instinct is to swim to shore – however, even the strongest swimmers cannot fight a rip current.
Instead, remain calm: a rip current will not pull you under. Focus on keeping your head above water. Summon help if you can, and either swim or float parallel to the shore. Conserve your energy until the current weakens and you’re able to break through and swim back to the shore.
To keep your family safe in the water or by the pool, follow these water safety tips:
- When swimming in a body of water, check the water depth before diving.
- Make sure pool fences are at least 4 feet high, with a latching/locking gate.
- Make sure pool ladders are secure.
- Instruct kids and young teens to never swim alone.
- Provide certified life jackets vs. inflatables for non-swimmers.
- Keep toddlers within arm’s length of adults when swimming.
- Have a swim monitor watch kids whenever they’re in the water.
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Put the pool toys away after swimming to remove temptation.
- Learn CPR.
- Know the signs of drowning/water distress, and act if you see a swimmer that is:
- Silent, with their mouth at water level
- Gasping or hyperventilating
- Upright in the water with head tilted back
- Moving downward or holding arms out to the sides
- Bobbing or trying to swim but not making progress
- Floating face down
This summer, if you are an injury victim due to another person’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to recover damages. If your injury is due to premises liability, such as an unsafe condition, poor safety training or procedures at an amusement park or activity, or negligent security at a hotel or public pool, call TorkLaw. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced in obtaining compensation for injury victims.
Whatever you do this summer, be safe and have fun. We hope you have no need of a personal injury lawyer – but if you do, TorkLaw is here for you!