The sun’s out, temperatures are rising, & green grass has replaced the snowpack. It’s summertime in Colorado, which means camping, cookouts & other fun outdoor activities. It also means it’s peak season for injuries & trips to the emergency room (ER).
Here’s what you need to know about preventing common summertime injuries & what to do if they happen:
- Wear Sun Protection
The sun is intense in Colorado & that can lead to serious consequences quickly.
Always wear sunscreen that protects against both UVA & UVB rays, as well as protective clothing, hats & sunglasses. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even if it’s waterproof. And stay out of the sun from 10am to 3pm.
If you get sunburned, stay hydrated & treat symptoms with aloe & over-the-counter medications, such as pain relivers & topical antihistamine lotions.
If your sunburn blisters, seek medical treatment immediately.
- Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration is another heat-related illness that’s problematic at high altitudes, because of lack of humidity & quick evaporation of sweat.
Dehydration happens when your body doesn’t have enough fluids to function normally.
You can prevent dehydration by drinking fluids, eating a balanced diet & spending time outdoors when the heat isn’t so intense.
If you experience the telltale signs of dehydration, such as thirst, dry mouth & dizziness, get out of the sun, lie down where it’s cool & drink plenty of fluids.
Dehydration can quickly escalate to heatstroke, where your internal temperature rises to dangerous levels. As a result, your body starts to shut down. You stop sweating & you may experience confusion, flushed skin, rapid breathing & increased heart rate.
Severe dehydration & heatstroke require immediate medical attention.
- Practice Food Safety
Warmer temperatures & outdoor dining can lead to food poisoning, because food can develop harmful bacteria after a short time in the heat.
Keep food cold by putting it on ice until you’re ready to eat it. And store your ice chest out of the sun.
Clean surfaces & utensils. Don’t contaminate them or other food with bacteria from raw meat, poultry or seafood. Keep uncooked meat separate from other foods. Wash your hands before & after you handle raw food.
Cook meat to the correct internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Always put cooked meat on a clean plate.
Throw away any food that’s been out for two hours or more.
Mild food poisoning can be treated at home. Hydrate with clear liquids & eat bland food in small portions until you feel better.
If nausea, vomiting & diarrhea last for more than a couple days (or >24 hours in children), see your physician.
- Steer Clear of Stinging Insects
For most people, an insect sting is a painful nuisance, but it can be fatal in others.
To avoid stinging insects, don’t use heavy scents, especially florals, & wear plain, light-colored clothing. In addition, cover food & sugary drinks.
If you do get stung, apply ice to the affected area & take a pain reliever as well as an antihistamine.
If you experience trouble breathing, swelling of the tongue or face, or a severe reaction from a sting, go to the ER immediately.
- Reduce The Risk Of Sports-Related Injuries
Bike-related injuries increase during the summer. The most common are concussions & fractures of the hand, wrist & shoulder.
High-speed descents & user error cause most mountain biking accidents. And, while not all of them can be avoided, you can reduce the risk of serious injury by taking safety precautions:
- Inspect your bike every time you ride & make sure the brakes & tires are working properly.
- Wear the proper gear – a helmet, body armor & cycling glasses
- Never ride alone
- Always be aware of your surroundings & look out for obstacles
If you’re injured in an accident, move to a safe area off the trail & call bike patrol. Stay calm, don’t move unnecessarily & wait for help to arrive.
- Use Fireworks Responsibly
Fireworks are a great, but if they aren’t handled properly, they can do serious damage.
A responsible adult should always supervise & take these safety precautions when using legal fireworks outdoors:
- Read the instructions to understand how it works before lighting the fuse.
- Wear safety glasses.
- Light one firework at a time & then move away quickly.
- Keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out small fires
Never give fireworks to children, especially sparklers. Sparklers can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees & cause significant eye injuries.
If you or your child gets burned, wrap the wound in a clean towel saturated with cool water & get to an ER immediately.