It's Memorial Day weekend, and that means the unofficial beginning of trauma season. It's the time of year when the weather warms up and the number of traumatic injuries spike as people head outdoors, shake off the winter blahs and participate in activities that have the potential to be hazardous to their health and safety.
As you enjoy the holiday weekend and gear up for the summer, here are some simple tips to keep in mind that can help keep you, your friends and your family safe and out of a hospital emergency department.
■ Drive safely. Motor vehicle collisions are one of the traumatic injuries that spike this time of year. Obey the laws, wear your seat belt, secure your children in car seats, avoid distractions (cellphone, radio, passengers, etc.) and, most important, don't drink and drive. When driving, keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. Kids are out playing and can quickly jump out in front of a vehicle.
■ Keep food safe. Bacteria love warm weather and potato salad. Make sure food is prepared fresh and is eaten in a timely fashion or stored appropriately if there will be a delay in consumption. Do not leave food sitting out for extended amounts of time or you may find yourself in the restroom for extended amounts of time.
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■ Water safety. If you hit the pool, lakes or rivers, you need to make sure you have a Coast Guard-approved life jacket easily accessible. Those who can't swim and all children need to wear life jackets at all times; this is a good idea for everyone. Do not drink and boat. Intoxication is a common cause of boating-related accidents.
■ Pool safety. Make sure your pool is safe. It needs a continuous fence with automatically latching gates. All drains need to be covered and chemicals monitored. Any time children are in the pool, there needs to be close adult supervision. If you lose track of a child, always check the pool first.
■ Bikes and boards. When enjoying the summer from a bicycle, skates, skateboard or any other type of personal moving object, wear a helmet and any other activity-specific protective equipment. It may not always look cool, but it is much cooler than a body cast and medical bills.
■ Drink responsibly. Alcohol is frequently a part of warm-weather celebrations, but it is crucial to drink responsibly. The misuse of alcohol is a major contributor in a large number of trauma-related injuries. Never drink and drive; better yet, don't operate any piece of machinery or equipment while under the influence. Know when to stop drinking and never be afraid to call a cab.