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Summer safety encouraged

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With summer upon us, KentuckyOne Health is encouraging all Kentuckians to stay safe while enjoying outdoor activities. Many people often think of the dangers associated with swimming during summer months, but everyday activities such as gardening, mowing the lawn, grilling, and riding a bicycle or skateboard can also be dangerous — especially for children. Following safety guidelines can help avoid traumatic injury while enjoying time outdoors.

Gardening/mowing the lawn

During the summer, many people enjoy sprucing up their lawn and garden, and many older children and teenagers are often seen mowing lawns as a weekend chore. While these activities seem harmless, it’s important to take proper precautions to avoid pulling a muscle, or the potential loss of fingers, toes, hands and feet.

Spending the day digging and planting can put a stress on the body if appropriate safety measures aren’t taken. Common injuries that can occur during gardening include back and shoulder pain, and inflammation of the knee. Stretching before working in the garden and regular exercise can prevent an occurrence of injury. 

Lawn mower injuries can be more serious. More than 80,000 people go to the emergency room due to lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Aside from amputations as a result of making contact with a lawn mower blade, additional injuries may include deep cuts, burns, or crushed or broken bones.

“Exhaust from a lawn mower can exceed 240 degrees, leading to serious burns,” said Casey Corbit, MD, Emergency Medicine Specialist, Flaget Memorial Hospital. “If you run out of gas while using a lawn mower, allow it to cool down before you refuel, to help avoid a serious injury. Objects hurled from a mower blade can also travel 300 feet per second. Always be on your guard while operating a lawn mower, and wear the proper apparel, such as eyewear, clothing and shoes.”

To avoid injuries, keep your hands and feet away from the lawn mower blade while it is moving. Make sure the lawn mower is turned off and that the blades have stopped moving before unclogging grass from the blades. 

Grilling

Summer is a popular time for cookouts on the grill, but out-of-control flames and grill explosions can be harmful. In 2014, at least 16,600 people went to emergency rooms as a result of grilling injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. More than half of the injuries suffered were for thermal burns.

“While burns can cause swelling, blistering and scarring, in more serious cases, they can lead to infections, shock or even death,” said Dr. Corbit. “Treatment will depend on the type of burn you receive. Minor burns can be treated with antibiotic creams, but those suffering from a serious burn should seek medical help immediately, as treatment may be needed to clean the wound or replace the skin.”

To avoid grilling injuries, keep children and pets at least three feet away from a grill, never leave the grill unattended and make sure the gas grill lid is open before lighting it. Keep the grill clean by removing grease and fat, and check the gas tank hose for leaks each year before using it.

Bicycle/skateboard safety

When a crash happens between a cyclist and vehicle, it is the cyclist who is often injured or killed. To avoid being injured on a bike or skateboard, it is recommended to go with the flow of traffic, use hand signals, watch for uneven pavement and potholes, make the bicycle visible at all times, and wear a properly fitted helmet, regardless of age or skill.

While enjoying the outdoors this summer, be aware of the summer risk factors and take precautions to stay safe. If you are dealing with a life-threatening emergency or you are in doubt, call 911.