Fun Season Can Be Trauma Season

Summertime is fun time. It’s when everyone seems to get that “school’s out” attitude, and when we long to leave work as soon as possible in order to enjoy lazy evenings and weekends. Road trips are a must, but in between, we need to fit in our summer chores: lawn and garden care, home repairs, and perhaps pool maintenance.

Those who work in the medical profession know there’s a reason that summer is called “the trauma season.” It begins in the spring with bicycles, motorcycles, and lawn mowers, progressing to swimming mishaps and other water injuries as the temperatures rise.

Traumatic Numbers

Across our nation, the No. 1 cause of death is traumatic injury for those aged 44 and under. At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, PA, the medical director of trauma, Dr. Louis Alarcon, noted, “Most of these things are preventable. That’s why we don’t call them accidents.”

Here in Indiana, traumatic injury is the most frequent cause of death for those 44 and under as well. It is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death for all ages in our state. Some additional numbers to ponder:

  • During 2014, 4,421 people in Indiana died from traumatic injury.
  • Of those who died from trauma, 2,944 deaths were unintentional.
  • The most frequent cause of Indiana unintentional traumatic death in 2014 was poisoning, with 1,294 deaths. It was followed by motor vehicle crashes, with 719 deaths. In third place was falls, which killed 410 people.

Summertime Changes

During the summer, the causes of injuries change a bit, reflecting the increased amount of time spent outdoors. Hot-month reasons for trauma include:

  • Bicycles and skateboards. They can be the cause of scrapes, sprains, and even broken bones.
  • Lawn mowers. Rocks and other items can become projectiles, causing injury.
  • All water activities. Injuries can range from diving mishaps, to slips and falls, to drownings and near-drownings.
  • ATVs and dirt bikes. Rollovers on ATVs are serious business, as can be attempting jumps on dirt bikes.
  • If you ride motorcycles, you know what you need to do: always wear a helmet, protective gear, and obey the rules of the road.
  • One kid flying off a trampoline usually means an injury. More than one kid at a time on a trampoline can mean multiple traumas from crashing into each other or knocking each other off.
  • Grills and fireworks. Burns from grills and fire pits are a common summertime injury. Fireworks injure around 10,000 people in our country every year.
  • Across the U.S., firearms are the sixth leading cause of accidental injuries, with over 15 percent of those injured dying. Remember, too, that injuries can be caused by BB guns, air rifles, and paint guns.

Safety Suggestions

A little precaution during the nice weather can go a long way:

  • If a helmet is called for, wear one.
  • Use your vehicle’s seatbelt, and make sure kids are in approved car seats.
  • Don’t leave children alone around pools, hot grills, fire pits, and fireworks. Indiana law requires that only those 18 and above can buy fireworks. While those under 18 can use them, someone 18 or older must be present.
  • Use appropriate safety equipment when mowing the lawn, and don’t use mowers as “toys” for kids to ride on. Wear closed-toe shoes and don’t operate mowers on steep hills.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly, and don’t mix it with activities that carry risk.

The Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center has more summer safety tips concerning mowing, gardening, water activities, fireworks, and camping and hiking. If you need to find an Indiana trauma center, the Indiana State Department of Health has listings to help you locate one.

Do what you can to keep yourself and loved ones safe, but do enjoy yourself!

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