Summer months bring rise in emergency room visits – Florida Times-Union

Summertime in Florida brings warm weather, beach trips and outdoor activities as children are out of school and families enjoy vacations.

All can be fun, but also have inherent risks and increases in injuries.

Close to 20 percent of adults and more than 17 percent of children every year visit an emergency room.

About 27 percent of visits are in the summer months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Florida, we are faced with a unique set of problems that can result in drownings from rip currents in the ocean to heat-related illnesses and dangerous sunburns.

Some other common injuries and illnesses seen in emergency rooms in the summer include motor vehicle accidents, watersports-related injuries, snake bites, shark bites, bug bites, spinal injuries and other traumatic injuries.

But there are many ways to stay safe while enjoying all the fun summer has to offer.

Wear sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and reapply frequently

Limit your time in the extreme heat and direct sun and wear sun protective clothing

The suns rays are most harmful between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If youre out during these times, seek shade under a tree, shelter or an umbrella.

Stay hydrated throughout the day

Learn CPR and other life-saving techniques

Be sure to wear your seatbelt at all times

In the summer, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 140 degrees. Never leave a child or a pet inside a parked car even if the windows are cracked or the car is parked in the shade.

Water safety is also essential. The CDC reports that from 2005 to 2014 there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children between 1 and 4 and the second leading injury-related cause of death in older children, with nearly 800 children drowning each year nationally, according to Safe Kids Northeast Florida, led by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Childrens Hospital. More than half are under age 5.

More than 5,000 children nationally are seen in emergency rooms for injuries from near-drowning incidents.

According to Safe Kids Northeast Florida, studies show that although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time like talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child. Even a near-drowning can have lifelong consequences.

With all the water activities in Florida, its important to also know that Floridas drowning death rate of children ages 1 to 4 has historically been the highest in the nation.

Children need to be watched carefully and at a close distance while also avoiding any distractions. Use life jackets when boating and ensure that yourself and children know basic swimming skills. If you have a pool, be sure it is fenced off and safeguards are in place to protect children from getting inside unsupervised.

When it comes to the outdoors, children and adults also need to be careful where they walk and play because they may come face-to-face with critters, including snakes.

Summer is snake season and Florida is especially dangerous with several poisonous snakes commonly roaming the area.

Avoid high-brush areas and if you see a snake, do not approach or pick it up.

If you are bitten, seek help immediately. Do not apply a tourniquet and do not attempt to suck venom from the wound. Often times, people try to capture and bring in the snake when they go to the emergency room. But that is actually more dangerous and does not help with treatment. Instead, remember the snakes color and shape to describe to medical personnel.

The key to summer fun is to just be cautious and take necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe.

Brandi Gilchrist, MD, is board-certified as an emergency medical specialist. She is medical director of Baptist Emergency at Town Center and assistant medical director of the emergency department at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, 1350 13th Avenue South, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250.

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Summer months bring rise in emergency room visits – Florida Times-Union

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