News and Information

Summer Safety Tips

05-23-2013

Anthony Raspanti, MD
Trauma, Medical Director
CaroMont

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.

Dehydration

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
  • Thirst
  • 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
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • 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
  • Fever
  • 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

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
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

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 medicines.

Water safety

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 drowning.

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 CPR
  • 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.