Everybody loves summer. They’re outside, they’re active, they’re playing sports, and sometimes, they’re getting injured. However, enjoying summer sports does not have to mean a trip to the emergency room. By following these common sense guidelines from Eric Small, MD, Pediatric and Adult Sports Medicine specialist with our Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine group, in his recent blog, you and your family can enjoy summer sports while staying safe.
Always wear a helmet
A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury. Whether biking, rappelling, white water rafting, horseback riding or skateboarding, make sure you always wear a properly fitted helmet (not too wide or loose and should not tip backward exposing the forehead). Also make sure you are wearing a helmet for the sport or activity it is designed and approved for (good resource: the Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Always wear a life jacket
Wearing a life jacket can save your life by keeping your head above water if you become unconscious or incapacitated. In 2014, 78% of fatal boating accident victims drowned and of those drowning victims, 84% were not wearing a life jacket. Note: These days there are many styles of life jackets available for any type of water activity—you don’t have to use those old-fashioned bulky orange ones!
Always buckle up
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young adults ages 16 to 20. In 2013, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,584 lives (occupants 5 and older) and an estimated 2,388 lives (occupants 13 and older) were saved by frontal air bags. During a car crash, a seatbelt helps keep a person more secure inside the vehicle; if thrown out of the vehicle, the passenger’s injuries are almost always fatal.
Watch children at all times in or near water
For children under age 5, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death, with rates even surpassing those of traffic accident fatalities. Young children are especially at risk—they can drown in less than 2 inches of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it: the sink, toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, even small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Most drownings happen in home swimming pools so make sure there are safety gates surrounding any pool you are near with young children. Also, at Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, we recommend that you learn to swim and teach your children to swim.
If you drink, do so responsibly
Every day in the United States, 36 people die and approximately 700 more are injured in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That is why it is crucial to designate a non-drinking driver before an event begins where alcohol is present. If no one in your group is sober, call a cab, car service or another friend, but DO NOT get behind the wheel of a car if you are impaired, and DO NOT get in the car of a driver who is impaired.
Know the signs and symptoms of concussion
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Any repeat injury to the brain (secondary concussion) can result in lasting impairment or even death. If you have sustained a blow to the head, stop your sports activity and seek medical attention immediately from a sports medicine specialist who understands traumatic brain injury. As we always tell our patients, “When in doubt, sit it out.”
For more information on keeping you and your family safe this summer, visit the CDC’s Injury Center.
If you have been injured during any sports-related activity, come see us
If you have experienced any type of sports-related injury, please make an appointment with one of our specialists at Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Their team of experts specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of exercise-related injuries and conditions.
To read Dr. Small’s blog in full, click here.