Ryan Stanton, MD, doesn't want to meet you this summer. The Lexington, Ky., emergency room physician knows that when the weather starts heating up, so do a host of health hazards that can quickly turn a festive day at the beach into a disaster. He tells WebMD the Magazine about what brings summer revelers into his emergency room most often -- and how you can enjoy the warm weather while escaping the same fate.
Every homeowner loves the sight of a pristine, neatly mowed yard. But in their haste to get that lawn in shape, some people forget to take precautions. "In the warmer months we see lots of mower injuries -- toes, hands, and fingers getting caught in blades, and things like rocks and sticks getting flung out of them," says Stanton. "People start tinkering with the mower and reach under it to unclog it, and forget there's a spinning blade there. Those are hideous injuries."
They're also hard to repair, because not only can whirling blades cause complex lacerations and fractures, but they can bury contaminants like grass and dirt in the wound. To be safe:
Wear closed-toed shoes -- preferably with a steel toe -- when you mow, along with goggles or sunglasses, gloves, and long pants that will protect you from flying debris.
Keep kids away from the push mower and off the riding mower. Riding mowers are not just another ride-on toy.
Get a professional to service your mower or learn how to do it properly. Important: Disconnect the spark plug to prevent it from accidentally starting. Turning a push mower's blade manually can ignite the engine.
2. Boating Accidents
Stanton has lost track of how many boating accidents he's seen as an ER doctor. "People's biggest mistake by far is drinking and boating. People get out there and drink alcohol all day in the sun, and you end up with the same accidents you have with driving -- with the added risks of falling out of boats, getting hit by propellers, and drowning."
It's also easy to get lax about life jackets. "Kids need to have them on all the time," he says. "Even if having them under the seat fulfills the law, in an accident, chances are anyone who doesn't know how to swim won't be able to get to them in time."
When you are going to be out on a boat or at the beach with a child, basic lifesaving skills are a must, not a luxury. "The courses are easy, usually just one day or half a day," Stanton says. "There's no mouth-to-mouth [resuscitation] anymore if you are not trained -- just chest compressions."
You can find first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and other emergency lifesaving courses near you with the American Heart Association's ECC (Emergency Cardiovascular Care) Class Connector tool online at americanheart.org.