10 tips for averting summertime dangers

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10 tips for averting summertime dangers

Barbecues, lawnmowers, boats, fireworks increase emergency department visits
Steve Butler

During the summer, emergency department visits jump by about 20 percent at Harborview Medical Center.

“Nearly half of all unintentional injury-related deaths in the United States among children ages 14 and under occur during the summer,” says Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of Harborview’s Pediatric Services and an investigator with the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.
Summer risks are especially great for children, but safety reminders apply to all ages. Here are 10 tips for weathering the summer safely:

  • Secure upstairs windows at home to protect children from falls. Keep in mind that window screens do not keep children from falling.
  • Treat barbecues and fire pits with respect. Keep kids at a safe distance and ensure they know that heat lingers long after the fire is out.
  • In an instant, fireworks can result in finger, hand and thumb amputations, severe burns and permanent eye injuries. On July Fourth, leave the fireworks to the pros. Never allow young children to handle fireworks, and supervise adolescents who want to use fireworks.
  • Lawn mowers are major causes of amputations to children. Never let your child ride on or operate a mower, and never drive one when surrounding light is dim.
  • In or on the water, go with a buddy. Be cautious when swimming in lakes and rivers, which are colder and make swimmers tire faster. If you’re boating, wear a life jacket, no matter your age or the boat’s speed.
  • With any outdoor activities, apply sunscreen (at least 30 sun protection factor, or SPF) generously to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
  • Car seats for young children and seat belts for other passengers offer the best protection from injury and death in an accident.
  • If you drive, leave your smartphone in the back seat. Texting while driving is equivalent to having a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, research shows, and drivers who text are 23 times more likely to get into a crash.
  • Kids on bikes, skateboards and inline skates should wear a certified helmet (bicycle or multisport) and consider other protective gear such as elbow and knee pads.
  • While adults and teenagers should never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is also important to limit alcohol consumption when engaging in warm weather activities. Reaction times are slowed and dangers often are unrecognized when people are under the influence.

News editors: Interviews are available with UW Medicine’s Dr. Brian Johnston and Anne Newcombe, clinical director of Emergency Services at Harborview Medical Center. Media contact for this story is Susan Gregg, 206.616.6730, sghanson@uw.edu.