Trauma and injury remains a devastating problem in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death for those under the age of 45. Almost 200,000 Americans die of injury every year and nearly all are completely avoidable, Mayo Clinic experts say. May is National Trauma Awareness Month and Mayo Clinic trauma and injury prevention expert, Donald Jenkins, M.D., offers some advice on how to prevent common injuries in adults and kids this summer, while still having fun.
"Summertime is the worst time of the year for injury, and our trauma numbers go way up," says Dr. Jenkins. "We see many injuries related to boating, ATVs and motocross. People are getting outdoors, doing high energy activities and they really need to take a moment and think about safety before doing an activity and take some preventive measures."
Here are some simple tips to remember to keep your summer injury-free:
•While operating motorized equipment, go slow, avoid or limit alcohol consumption and always wear a helmet.
•Motorcyclists and motocross riders should wear full protective gear, in addition to their helmet. Bicyclists should always wear a helmet. Serious injuries can occur in an accident, but survival chances increase exponentially when a helmet is worn.
•Utilize safety precautions when using pesticides and fertilizers and keep them out of the reach of kids. "Poisoning actually kills more people in this country every year than car crashes — 40,000 deaths related to poisoning," says Dr. Jenkins.
•Make sure to keep an eye on your children. "Trauma kills more children than all of the other causes of death of children combined," says Dr. Jenkins. This is the time of year when lightning strikes, boating accidents happen and there is an increase in drowning. Dr. Jenkins advises that ladders should not be easily accessible for above ground pools and that locked fences should be installed around in ground pools. If you can hear thunder or see lightening keep children indoors until the storm passes.
•Avoid fireworks. The high heat and explosives used in fireworks can lead to serious burns and are the leading cause of blindness. Children should be closely supervised while using any kind of firework even sparklers and other fireworks thought to be relatively safe.
•Heat injury is a serious problem. As temperatures climb, never leave kids in the car, even for a short period of time. Also, when participating in outdoor activities, apply sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing.
•Avoid cliff jumping or diving. It's a dangerous activity which is often mixed with alcohol. Cliff divers may not see debris beneath the water which can pose a serious hazard.
"People should get outdoors and enjoy themselves, but as a part of the preparations for having fun, just take a few safety notes and you'll be able to have more fun for many more years without any regret," he says.