Anthony Raspanti, MD
Trauma, Medical Director
Memorial Day is next week which means summer is just around the corner.
While we’re all ready for a day off from work and to spend time
with our family and friends, it’s important to play safely. Millions
of Americans will hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend, but before
you do, here are a few tips to keep you safe and healthy.
Motor Vehicle Safety
- Statistics show that Memorial Day weekend is one of the six dates during
the year when total occupant vehicle fatalities is the highest due in
large part to families traveling together.
- The average number of traffic deaths during Memorial Day over 6 year period
(2005-2010) is 11-12% higher than non Memorial Day time periods
- In NC each year there are around 600 motor vehicle occupants injured over
the 3-day Memorial Day holiday.
Drinking and operating vehicles
The number of injuries from underage drinking rises approximately 11% over
Memorial Day holiday. When you drink alcohol, or use other drugs, and
drive, you endanger your life, and the lives of your passengers and others
on the road. Never ride with anyone who has been drinking.
Heat, humidity, physical activity and the outdoors—a recipe for
dehydration. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, and your
body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its
normal functions. It’s important to limit caffeine intake because
it serves as a diuretic, meaning it can cause you to rid your body of
water. Symptoms of dehydration can fall into the mild to moderate and
to severe categories, which in this case is a medical emergency. Here’s
what to look out for:
Mild to moderate symptoms:
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
- Decreased urine output — no wet diapers for three hours for infants
and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
- Few or no tears when crying
- Dry skin
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
You can usually reverse mild symptoms of dehydration by taking in more fluids.
Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:
- Extreme thirst
- Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and
confusion in adults
- Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
- Lack of sweating
- Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark
yellow or amber
- Sunken eyes
- Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce
back” when pinched into a fold
- In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- No tears when crying
- In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
Severe symptoms like these require immediate medical attention.
Children, older adults and people with chronic diseases are more at risk
for becoming dehydrated. So, remember to drink lots of water, particularly
during hot weather, and if you’re outside for a prolonged period
of time. Drink up!
Heat Stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency.
If you suspect that someone has heat stroke—also known as sunstroke—you
should call 9-1-1 immediately and render first aid until paramedics arrive.
Know the symptoms of heat stroke.
- High body temperature,
- Dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid pulse
If you or someone you know has these symptoms, cool your body temperature
(like cold showers or water) and seek immediate medical assistance.
Tips to avoid heat stroke:
- Limit your time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the day is hottest.
- Never leave a child, a disabled or elderly person, or a pet in an unattended
car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous
levels in as little as 10 minutes.
- Dress appropriately in loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes.
Certain medications, particularly psychiatric medications, can affect your
ability to sweat. Consult your health care provider for recommendations
on how to monitor your body’s response to the heat while taking
Statistics show that water related deaths increase as weather gets warmer
and typically Memorial Day is often the start of the swimming season.
Playing in the water – whether swimming, boating or diving –
can be fun. It can also be dangerous, especially for children. Being safe
can help prevent injuries and
Tips to stay safe in the water
- Avoid alcohol when swimming or boating
- Wear a life jacket whenever you’re in a boat
- Don’t swim alone, or in bad weather
- Learn to swim and teach your children to swim
- Supervise your children when they are in the water
- Prevent sunburns, use plenty of sunscreen
- Never leave your child unattended around water. Designate a responsible
adult to watch young children when they are swimming or playing in or
around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch
supervision,” and should be close enough to reach the child at all times.
- Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to
do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are
near or around water.