The 1980s British pop band Bananarama may have been willing to put up with “cruel, cruel summer” due to extreme boredom and sweltering temperatures.

But insurance agents and brokers who want to help clients avoid cruel health care bills may want to warn them about the most common summer vacation battle wounds. 

“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.

Water sports are a leading cause of summer injuries.

10. Water sports injuries

How many each year: 29,000

Prevention advice:

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.

Amusement park rides are a leading cause of summer injuries.

9. Amusement park, state fair and carnival ride injuries

How many each year: 37,000

Prevention advice:

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)

Volleyball is a leading cause of summer injuries

8. Volleyball injuries

How many each year: 59,000

Prevention advice:

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)

Trampolines are a leading cause of summer injuries.

7. Trampoline injuries

How many each year: 83,000

Prevention advice: 

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)

Swimming is a leading cause of summer injuries.

6. Swimming injuries

How many each year: 181,000

Prevention advice:

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)

Soccer is a leading cause of summer injuries.

5. Soccer injuries

How many each year: 214,000

Prevention advice:

Proper conditioning, stretching, warmups and cool-downs are key to preventing many of these injuries including the severe sprains, torn cartilage and damaged anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs).

ATVs are a leading cause of summer injuries.

4. ATV, moped and mini bike injuries

How many each year: 221,000

Prevention advice: 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises against using ATVs on paved roads, allowing children under the age of 16 to ride adult ATVs, or riding an ATV as a passenger. Additionally, that government agency urges ATV enthusiasts to always wear helmets and protective gear.

Ten states top the C.P.S.C’s list of places where people die as a result of ATV accidents. Those states are:

  1. California

  2. Texas

  3. Pennsylvania

  4. West Virginia

  5. Kentucky

  6. Florida

  7. Tennessee

  8. New York

  9. North Carolina

  10. Michigan

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Playgrounds are a leading cause of summer injuries.

3. Playground injuries

How many each year: 244,000

Prevention advice:

Studies indicate that roughly 7 out of 10 playground injuries happen because of a fall or an equipment failure. Pediatricians are acutely aware of such hazards.

“For young children, make sure the structures are lower to the ground,” Kelly Levasseur, a Pediatric Emergency Center physician at Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Michigan, says in an article about summer injury prevention. “Ground cover is also important. Stay away from concrete and grass. The best ground covering is rubber or wood chips. Also, look for rusty nails or broken equipment.”

Levasseur also cautions adults and kids alike to remember to apply sunscreen regularly while enjoying an outdoor playground. 

(AP Photo/Mike Derer)

Baseball and softball are leading causes of summer injuries.

2. Baseball and softball injuries

How many each year: 261,000

Prevention advice: 

Since baseball is a non-contact sport, injuries happen with unintentional contact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Warming up and stretching can help prevent common strains and sprains. Coaches are also advised to become very familiar with the conditions of their field, and to be prepared for emergency situations with an on-hand first aid kit along with a medical response plan.

Bike riding is a leading cause of summer injuries.

1. Bicycle injuries

How many each year: 550,000

Prevention advice:

Wearing a helmet will reduce the chance of a head injury by 85 percent, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. The use of a bicycle helmet also seriously reduces the chance that a bike accident, which often involves a motor vehicle, will be fatal for the cyclist.

 

See also:

The growth of telemedicine

The 5 most common reasons for medical overbilling

U.S. healthcare spending keeps riding (slowly)

 

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