The 1980s British pop band Bananarama may have been willing to put up with “cruel, cruel summer” due to extreme boredom and sweltering temperatures.
“As we get into summertime, we become more relaxed,” says Jennifer Hoekstra, the injury prevention program coordinator at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Our mindset this time of year is, let’s go out, have fun and try new things … It’s a really carefree attitude.”
That carefree attitude can lead to health care claims.
Hoekstra, the mother of three and a former teacher, says she saw a need for more public education around how injuries can be avoided with safety-minded forethought and a few precautions.
Nearly 2 million Americans are injured each year from popular summertime activities, according to hospital tracking data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Mike Connor, a longtime plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida, says he and his wife, who’s a pediatrician, anticipate an uptick in patient visits as a result of vacation-related mishaps.
“Vacations and holidays are really associated with outdoor activities,” says Connor, who invented a three-step, take-home scar treatment product called Scarology after years of tending to serious cuts, scrapes and burns.
Keep reading to find out the leading ways that warm weather injuries happen — based on 2011 data from the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System — along with how they can be prevented.
10. Water sports injuries
How many each year: 29,000
Many of these injuries can be prevented with preseason conditioning and a purposeful warmup before your exercise.
Although doctors regularly treat cuts, strains, sprains and orthopedic injuries from such water sports as jet-skiing and wakeboarding, they also caution against dehydration, which outdoor enthusiasts may forget about while frolicking in or near water.
9. Amusement park, state fair and carnival ride injuries
How many each year: 37,000
The following are the top ride safety tips from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).
Mind the posted height, weight and health restrictions on each ride.
Read any posted safety rules for each ride. Responsible parks also have attendants who remind riders about safety rules at the start of each ride.
Never dangle your hands or feet outside of a ride.
Always stay in your seat during a ride.
Always use the straps, belts, crossbars and any other ride safety equipment.
Make sure your possessions are secure.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
8. Volleyball injuries
How many each year: 59,000
Staying fit during the off-season is the best way for regular players to avoid injury during games. Recreational players should remember to stretch and warm up before a game, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.
(AP Photo/Heribert Proepper)
7. Trampoline injuries
How many each year: 83,000
Matt Mitchell, an orthopedic surgeon in Wyoming, told the Casper Star Tribune that during the summer, he sees about one patient each week with a trampoline injury. Sprains and fractures are the most common among them but bruises, bumps and bloody noses are also a concern. Here are some of this doctor’s trampoline safety recommendations:
Allow only one person on a trampoline at any given time.
Use a trampoline net to minimize falls.
Make sure the trampoline is situated on a relatively soft surface such as a lawn.
Make sure the trampoline is secure.
Keep the trampoline well-maintained. Any damage to the supporting bars or mats present a fresh safety danger.
Untrained tumblers should avoid somersaults and other “high-risk maneuvers.”
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)
6. Swimming injuries
How many each year: 181,000
When spending time at a pool, lake or shoreline with family and friends, designate brief shifts in which an adult is always serving as a “water watcher.”
“At the water’s edge, especially with children, you need to put all distractions away,” says Michigan injury prevention specialist Jennifer Hoekstra. “Don’t check messages or put on sunscreen … Your only job is to focus on the water.”
Here are some other swimming safety tips:
Never dive into shallow water.
Jump into lakes, rivers or the sea feet-first, particularly in dark waters, where you can’t see what’s below.
Stop swimming during inclement weather.
Try to avoid crowded swimming spots where it’s hard to monitor your group.
Avoid wearing headphones at the pool or beach, so you can hear any developing trouble.
(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)