Intermountain Health emergency medicine experts give advice for a safe Fourth of July.
(PRUnderground) July 3rd, 2023
As it continues to warm up, the Fourth of July holiday is often packed with outdoor fun. Unfortunately injuries and trips to the emergency department also rise.
Independence Day is often celebrated with hiking, biking, backyard barbecue grilling, swimming, fireworks, and off-roading in the mountains. However, even fun excursions and celebrations can become dangerous if people are not aware and not prepared. That’s why Intermountain Health clinicians are reminding Utahns to take eight steps to ensure they have a safe holiday.
- Enjoy Fireworks Safely
New numbers just out this week from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that fireworks sent more than 10,000 people to the emergency department last year in the United States. There were also 11 reported fireworks related deaths in 2022.
Sparklers, which burn at 2,000˚ F, are one of the most common fireworks, but also the most dangerous.
“Sparklers may seem safe, but they are the number one firework related injury of kids under five,” said Adam Balls, MD, senior medical director of emergency medicine and trauma for Intermountain Health. “Don’t give sparklers to kids or let them light them and when you’re done with sparklers put them in a bucket of water.”
Most firework related injuries are preventable, but if the unthinkable happens, here are some suggestions:
- Go immediately to a doctor or hospital
- Don’t flush an injured eye with water or attempt to put ointment on it
- If the injury is a burn, remove the clothing from the burned area and run cool water over the burn. Call your doctor immediately.
- Wear a Seatbelt
Historically, the period in Utah between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day are referred to as the 100 deadliest days. That’s because fatal car crashes nearly double during this time.
The Utah Department of Transportation reports the most common contributing factor to roadway fatalities is a failure to buckle up.
So far this year Utah has seen 26 unrestrained fatalities and 88 serious injuries.
“Seatbelts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury.” said Dr. Balls, “Wearing a seatbelt will not only keep you from becoming a statistic but keep every occupant and passenger that has their seatbelt securely fastened in your vehicle safe.”
- Be Prepared
People who enjoy the backcountry need to be especially prepared for whatever conditions they may encounter.
“Hundred-degree temperatures are headed our way for the first time this year and too many people don’t bring enough water when exploring Utah’s great outdoors,” said Dr. Balls. “Know what the weather is going to be like, including the temperature so you can bring enough water to stay hydrated and the appropriate clothing. Also, make sure you know your itinerary and have given that information to family members.”
- Wear the Right Equipment
Each year, more than 1,200 people die, and thousands are injured in bicycle, roller blade, scooter or skateboard accidents.
“The key is the right protective equipment. And helmets save lives,” said Dr. Balls. “People who fall while wearing a helmet are far more likely to survive and get back on that motorcycle, bike, scooter or ATV. Those who don’t wear a helmet could end up with a longer recovery time or don’t recover at all.”
- Wear a Life Jacket
After a record-breaking snow year, rivers in Utah are running high, cold and fast. Drowning is the second leading cause of death among Utah children under the age of 14.
Experts at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital have these general water-safety guidelines:
- Empty out kiddie pools or buckets of water at home after use
- Have children wear a life jacket whenever near water
- Never take your eyes off of children in the water
- Designate a “water watcher” when with a group of children
- While supervising, stay alert and avoid distractions
- Teach children to swim, but remember, there is no substitute for supervision
- Keep a telephone nearby in case of an emergency
- Stay Safe While Boating
The Center for Disease Control began studying carbon monoxide poisoning related to boats in 2000. Since then, thousands of carbon monoxide poisonings and hundreds of deaths have been reported.
Lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and tasteless can accumulate in just seconds – killing someone who breathes too much of it.
But carbon monoxide poisonings are preventable.
In many of these cases of poisoning, Lindell Weaver, MD, Intermountain Health’s medical director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Intermountain Medical Center and Intermountain LDS Hospital said, “they occurred near the back of the boat, close to the exhaust where children went from normal to serious in minutes!”
Here are some ways to prevent poisonings:
- Know how and where CO may accumulate in and around your boat. Carbon monoxide can accumulate in many places under differing conditions
- Avoid closed-off, poorly ventilated areas of a boat when its engine is running
- Watch children closely when they play on rear swim decks or water platforms, which should not be allowed if the engine is running
- Educate all passengers about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisonings
- Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
One in five people will get skin cancer in their lifetime. That number includes more than 800 Utahns who are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.
The good news, according to Tawnya Bowles, MD, Intermountain Health oncology surgeon, is that skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early.
“The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from sun damage. With summer here, it’s especially important to be vigilant about sun protection,” said Dr. Bowles.
- Call for Help
If you are injured this holiday, do not delay care. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.
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Original Press Release.