While Seattleites might spend much of the year indoors, the nice weather brings folks out to paddle around Green Lake, climb Mount Rainier or sunbathe on Alki Beach. But some of your favorite summer pastimes can also lead to an increase in injuries — and what emergency doctors call trauma season.
“Broken bones definitely seem to increase in the summer months,” says Dr. Herbert Duber, who works in the Emergency Departments at Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center – Montlake.
Burns, accidents and falls can also see an uptick as folks get outside and partake in various activities.
Luckily, there are precautions you can take to help keep your season accident-free. Make the most of your summer — sans a trip to the ER — with these emergency care doc safety tips for summer shenanigans.
Emergency care docs don’t drink and e-bike
Top of the safety-don’t list? The good ol’ standard to not drink and drive (or dive, boat, bike, swim — you get the idea).
“Using any motorized vehicle while intoxicated is a BAD idea. We commonly see broken arms — and faces! — after people decide to drink and then ride an electric scooter,” says Dr. Sachita Shah, who works in the Emergency Department at Harborview.
So, plan to pass on that electric bike or scooter outside the bar in Belltown and opt for a rideshare or designated driver to get you home instead.
Another motor tip for the road? Be careful (read: wear a helmet) or pass on that ATV ride — especially for kids wanting to drive the four-wheeler. “They seem to have an uncanny ability to flip over,” Duber says.
They don’t play with pyrotechnics
When asked about the most common summer injury, Shah says it all comes back to fire.
“We see so many fireworks gone awry that injure people’s hands, eyes and ears. Plus, lots and lots of campfire-related burns,” she says.
Stay in the clear by, well, staying clear of fire and explosives. Avoid sitting too close to a firepit or reaching in toward the flames, and leave setting off fireworks to the experts (and, yes, that means firecrackers, too).
Think of it as a time for the experts to do the work and for you to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
They would never mow the lawn barefoot
Other common injuries come from places you might not suspect: your windows and lawn mower.
You likely want windows open to let in a cool breeze (especially since so many folks don’t have air conditioning), but if you have kids, you want to prevent the upstairs windows from opening too far. This is because window falls are a common cause of injury and death for children and infants. And this remains true even if your window has a screen, as they are able to easily pop out or tear, Shah says.
As for lawnmowers, it’s obvious but bears repeating: wear close-toed shoes and don’t stick your arms, legs or anything else in front of the blades.
They would never forget sunscreen and life jackets
Our PNW summers are getting increasingly hot, which raises your risk of everything from sunburns to heatstroke. Keep things cool by slathering on some sunscreen and staying in the shade, plus drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration from sweating.
If you’re thinking of jumping in the lake to cool yourself down, there are a couple of things to keep in mind here, too. If it’s spring or early summer, the water might be quite cold so listen to your body and take a break if needed. And always swim with other folks or in an area with a lifeguard, keep an eye on kids playing in the water and wear a life jacket.
After taking some quick measures to stay safe, there are plenty of ways to have fun in the sun this summer.
“I love spending time with my kids and dog, and we love to swim in the lakes, hike in the mountains, grow and eat things in our garden and be in the sun,” Shah says.
“Hiking, biking and paddleboarding are awesome,” Duber adds. “I love playing baseball and softball with my kids.”