Summer is the Time For Sun, Fun and Safety
June 26, 2019, MORRIS, IL – When you head outside for some fun activities this summer, keeping safe might not be on the top of your mind. But a few simple safeguards can keep you and your family enjoying the outdoors all season long.
People of all ages enjoy a nice bicycle ride. It’s a joy, a stress-reliever and powerful medicine. But accidents do happen, and it can be a serious matter when they involve head injuries.
Dr. Charlotte Albinson, Morris Hospital’s medical director of immediate care and occupational medicine, said biking smart means wearing a helmet.
Bicycle injuries can even occur in the driveway.
Make sure helmets are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved and fit level on the head. Adjust the helmet so that two fingers fit easily between the chin and strap. And don’t make the mistake of buying a bicycle that is too large for your child, thinking they will grow into it.
“A lot of accidents happen because a bicycle is too big for a child,” Dr. Albinson said. “Make sure the bike is appropriate for their size.”
Think about your visibility, as well. Wear bright clothing and use hand signals for turning. At night, make sure to wear reflective clothing and have reflectors on the bike’s rear, front, pedals and spokes and a bright headlight to lead the way.
Being able to transition from treadmills and walking indoors to walking and hiking outside is the best of summer for some, but don’t forget to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
“You should really try not to be on your phone or listening to music on headphones when you’re out walking,” Dr. Albinson said, adding that she once treated a patient who tripped and broke her wrist while walking because she was on her cell phone and didn’t see that she was crossing a railroad track. “You want to be more aware of your surroundings.”
There were almost 6,000 walkers killed in 2017 from being hit by vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and some of those could have been prevented by the pedestrian just paying more attention.
It can also be the little things that literally trip you up when you’re walking and looking at your phone, like a crack in the sidewalk.
With more than 200,000 injuries at playgrounds each year, it’s worth it to keep a few things in mind for children playing in backyard or park playgrounds this summer.
Most playground injuries are from falls and can be lessened with a nice, yielding floor of wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel or foam, at least 12 inches in depth.
It’s also important to make sure there are no strangulation hazards on the equipment. Dr. Albinson said never attach dog leashes or ropes to playground structures, and leave hoodies and other clothing with drawstrings on the bench, along with bike helmets.
“Children can get burns from hot slides and swings, as well,” Dr. Albinson said, “so be sure to check the temperature of the playground equipment before using it.”
Mosquitoes and ticks
When outdoors, don’t forget to protect yourself against the biting bugs, some of which carry disease. The rainy spring left conditions ripe for mosquitoes to breed, and mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus have already been found by area health departments.
Most who are infected with the virus do not have symptoms, but some experience headaches, fatigue, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes. Still others develop more serious conditions, ranging from convulsions, coma, neurological disorders, vision loss and paralysis. The virus can also be fatal.
Dr. Albinson recommended using an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay. Reapply the repellent every two to five hours. For an extra layer of protection, wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
“West Nile disease is definitely something we need to be concerned about,” she said. “The best way to prevent that is to avoid areas with mosquitoes. Also be sure to remove any stagnant water in your yard.”
Ticks can carry disease, as well. The most common is Lyme disease, which if not treated early can lead to arthritis, meningitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, heart conditions and other maladies.
Dr. Albinson said people should make sure they don’t carry ticks inside with them after being outside in an area prone to ticks.
“Everybody should be checked for ticks on their whole bodies,” she said. “Lyme disease is in our area and is a serious disease. You need to get those ticks off before they can transmit disease. If one has been on you for more than a day, you need to see your doctor.”
For the treatment of minor illness and injuries, Morris Hospital’s Immediate Care services are available in Morris, Channahon and Yorkville. The Immediate Care centers are open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hours are subject to change on holidays. For more information, visit www.morrishospital.org/immediatecare.