SUMMER BUMMERS: How To Prevent Three Common Summer Injuries

Summer is known for sunshine, outdoor activities, and time spent with family and friends. But in all of the fun, it’s important to stay safe so you and your loved ones can enjoy the season to its fullest!

Here are common conditions we see in the summer months, and simple steps you can take to prevent them.


HOW TO PREVENT HEAT-RELATED INJURIES

We all enjoy having fun in the sun, but there’s such a thing as too much sun! If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, remember these tips to stay healthy.

1)  Drink plenty of water. You can get dehydrated if you’re in the heat for an extended period of time. So when you’re heading outside, remember to take extra water with you, and take frequent sips. If you’re urinating more than every 6 hours and/or your urine is dark yellow, you need to up your water game!

2)  Wear sunscreen. Before you step into the sunshine, cover all exposed skin with sunscreen. The strength of sunscreen is rated by SPF (Sun Protection Factor), which is the time it would take you to burn with sunscreen divided by the time it would take you to burn without sunscreen. The lower the SPF, the weaker it is, and the more often you’ll have to apply it. It’s important to remember to reapply sunscreen before you experience redness because at that point, you’ve already started to burn.

3)  Avoid Peak Heat Hours. The temperature usually peaks between 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. If you can, avoid being outside during those hours. If you’re outdoors during those hours, find a shady spot to rest until the afternoon begins to cool down.


HOW TO PREVENT SWIMMING INJURIES

Whether it’s in a pool or a lake or the ocean, swimming is a summertime favorite. Just make sure you take the following swimming safety precautions.

1)  Use Flotation Devices. If you’re boating or if you’re not a strong swimmer, wear a life jacket at all times. If you have children who haven’t yet learned to swim, make sure they’re wearing floaties at all times -- and that a grown-up is in the water with them.

2)  Look Before You Leap. Before you dive head-first into the water, make sure you double check the depth of the water you’re diving into, since diving head-first into shallow water can cause serious head and neck injuries. If you’re not sure, don’t dive! (Lower yourself in feet-first instead.)

3)  Pay Attention. Especially if there are young children swimming, make sure there’s a dedicated person who’s watching them at all times. If all the grown-ups are busy talking, drinking, eating or are otherwise distracted, you can miss the chance to intervene if a child suddenly starts to struggle in the water.


HOW TO PREVENT CUTS, BURNS & BITES

In the summer, we tend to see an increase of skin injuries - including cuts, burns and insect bites. Here’s what you can do about these common skin injuries.

1) Watch Those Edges. Whether you’re chopping firewood or cutting into a watermelon or slicing a juicy tomato, make sure you focus your attention on the task at hand, and position your fingers and toes so they’re not in the path of the blade. Make sure sharp objects are out of the reach of young children. Once children are old enough to begin using sharp objects, make sure you supervise them closely.

2) Respect The Flames. There are several steps you can take to avoid getting burned. For instance, if you’re grilling and you plan to use lighter fluid, make sure you squirt it on the coals before they’re too hot. If you’re around an open fire (because what summer is complete without a S’more or two!?), make sure everyone is far enough back so if someone trips, they won’t fall into the fire. Also, if you’re roasting marshmallows or hot dogs, make sure the sticks are long enough so there’s no risk of the flames touching your skin.

3) Seek Medical Attention ASAP! If you do sustain a serious cut or burn, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Burns need to be flushed with cool water quickly in order to stop the heat damage, and if a cut needs stitches, they need to be placed within the first 12 hours to decrease the risk of an infection. Also, if you do have an open wound to the skin (whether it’s a cut or a burn or another skin injury), you’ll need a tetanus shot if it’s been more than 5 years since your last one.

4) Ban Those Bugs. Bug bites can be annoying -- and, as in the case of West Nile Virus, Zika and Lyme Disease, they can actually be dangerous. To avoid being bitten, make sure you wear insect repellant and/or wear long sleeves, long pants and socks. If you develop a fever, a growing rash, a headache or joint aches after an insect bite, seek medical attention.


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Did you know we have six clinics in the Bay Area, and we’re open 7 days a week? So if you do sustain an injury, it’s easy to schedule an appointment online (or just walk in!) to get excellent medical care -- and get back to enjoying your summer!

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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