HealthZette

No Fun in the Sun

Five seasonal injuries — please don't collect them all

Hospitals around the country are very aware summer isn’t over yet.

This period right now is often referred to as “trauma season” in the medical field — since summer and early fall bring a whole host of season-specific injuries.

“We always see several children with second-degree burns on the bottom of their feet,” said an ER doctor.

“Lesser known injuries are heat-related illnesses, bacterial infections from warm lakes, and travel-related illnesses like stomach flu — since families are getting last-minute travel in,” said Dr. Jay Woody, founder and chief medical officer of Legacy ER & Urgent Care in North Texas.

But there are more common reasons people find themselves in the emergency room this time of year, Woody told LifeZette. Trampolines recently made headlines (again) for being a major cause of family ER visits — and bike accidents are always bruising, as are other falls.

These dangers can be prevented with awareness.

1.) Burns
Severe sun burns, burns from grilling — even campfires — plague people across the nation.

“During the summer, we always see several children with second-degree burns on the bottom of their feet because of hot pavement,” said W. Andrew Wilson, M.D., facility medical director and director of emergency medicine in Rhinebeck, New York. “[The other day] I had a four-year-old girl who got out of a pool and after just 20 seconds of walking on a blacktop driveway was screaming in pain. It only takes a few seconds of contact with hot blacktop to cause a serious injury that easy-to-slip-on shoes can prevent,” he said.

Protection against sun burns is critical. “We have already seen some significant sunburns. When kids are outside and sweating, or going in and out of the pool, parents need to reapply the sunscreen often,” Dr. Megan Brown, a pediatric emergency medical director in Jacksonville, Florida, said.

Grills are another culprit. In 2014, emergency rooms saw 16,600 patients as a result of injuries involving grills, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The period between May and August sees the highest number of grill fires.

2.) Falls
These injuries are a risk at any time of the year, but summer brings many of them to ER departments — everything from adults falling off ladders to children crashing on their bicycles.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to see a snake until it’s too late.”

Each day, some 8,000 children come to ERs due to falls — that’s some 2.8 million per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Playgrounds, wet floors at swimming pools, and tall trees are fun — but they can be hazardous. Securing ladders, watching children on the playground, and being safe on hard surfaces may help avoid injury.

3.) Bites
Preventing mosquito bites, especially across the South as the risk of contracting Zika rises, is a big concern. But that’s not the only bite to worry about.

“Ticks and mosquitoes can carry diseases such as lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and West Nile virus,” said Dr. Donal Conway, associate facility medical director at the Department of Emergency Medicine in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“Especially if you’re in a wooded area, wear clothing that covers your skin, use insect repellent, and check for ticks at the end of the day. Also, here in Alabama, snake bites are a risk — especially for kids who are going barefoot or swimming in lakes. Sometimes it’s difficult to see a snake until it’s too late, but increased awareness can help you avoid an injury,” he told LifeZette.

4.) Foot Lacerations
The most common injuries for adults each summer are foot lacerations — and sometimes even toe amputations — due to lawn mowers, according to a report in Yahoo Finance. Some 35,000 Americans visit emergency rooms each year as a result of lawn-mower accidents, the U.S Consumer Products Safety Commission reports.

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Never mow a wet, slippery lawn; always wear closed-toed shoes or boots; and never move a running mower backwards, according to foot and ankle surgeon James Thomas.

5.) Water Accidents
Roughly 1.2 million people die by drowning every year, according to the International Life Saving Federation. Diving accidents also cause a number of serious spinal cord complications each year. Some 9 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by impact sports and diving in shallow water, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Teach your children to swim,” said Douglas Holtzman, M.D., interim medical director of pediatric emergency medicine in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “Each year, we see devastated families who have lost a child to drowning — either because they accessed a pool and fell in, or jumped into the pool because they have no fear. I recently saw a three-year-old who, despite being in regular clothes, decided to jump into his grandpa’s pool. Luckily his grandfather jumped in to get him — but the child still choked on a fair amount of water before he was pulled out.”

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