Tips for a safe and fun summer

Our long summer hours offer plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors.

Whether we’re heading outside for fun or taking care of chores, staying safe should be top of mind, says Dr. Travis Webster, a Family and Emergency Room Physician at Bonnyville Health Centre, a Covenant Health facility.

That means making sure we avoid mixing things that might cause problems. When we're enjoying a few beers or cocktails, it is best to enjoy them on their own. .

“It’s good to be active and to enjoy the outdoors during the summertime. But when someone mixes alcohol with cutting grass or riding a boat or any recreational activity, it can result in injuries,” says Travis.

There are some specific warmer weather-related injuries that bring people into emergency rooms, says Dr. Colleen Sweeney, Emergency Room Facility Chief at the Misericordia Community Hospital.

“Accidents can happen when people are poorly dressed for activities. Mowing the lawn or using a weed whacker in flip flops or bare feet is dangerous. I have also seen injuries when people have attempted to clean or inspect the equipment while the motor is running or before the blades fully stop,” says Colleen.

Unintentional falls top the list of reasons that can land someone in the emergency room regardless of the season. They include instances such as falling from a ladder, scaffolding, building or stairs plus tripping, slipping and stumbling. This type of accident accounts for about a quarter of the 1.98 million emergency room visits across the country in 2015-16 based on a report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

Colleen and Travis point out that many summer health-related emergencies can also be blamed on being unprepared and unprotected while spending time outdoors.

They range from dehydration and exhaustion, lacking protection from the elements and not wearing proper safety gear while doing things such as swimming, biking or riding an all-terrain vehicle.

Colleen says small children are also susceptible to trampoline accidents, falling from a balcony or window and accidents around fire pits while camping. “Parents need to be mindful of safety when their kids are spending time outdoors.”

In order to have a safe and enjoyable time outdoors, both doctors emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from the elements such as using sunscreen and bug spray and also wearing proper safety gear tailored to the activity.

Both doctors recommend drinking lots of water and staying hydrated throughout the day especially when outside under the heat of the sun.

“Have fun and enjoy the outdoors. Do it safely,” says Travis.

Summery safety tips by Dr. Colleen Sweeney

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