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An ER doctor’s summer safety tips

Summer is a time of year when a lot of people end up in the emergency room with injuries. Piedmont Atlanta Hospital emergency medicine physician Colin Dircks, M.D., explains which injuries are most common in warmer months and how to prevent them.

According to Dr. Dircks, three of the most common summer injuries are heat-related illness, head injuries and fireworks-related injuries. “Heat cramps are common in the summer months and are caused by loss of sodium and other electrolytes. We see heat exhaustion and as heat illness progresses, you can develop nausea, headaches and even heat stroke,” says Dr. Dircks. With heat stroke, “the body core temperature elevates significantly – oftentimes more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.”

To avoid heat-related illnesses, Dr. Dircks recommends “staying hydrated and replacing lost sodium by drinking sports drinks.” In addition to heat-related illness, head injuries also increase in warm weather months.

“The most common activity during the summer months responsible for head injuries is bicycle accidents,” he says. “Water sports-related injuries are also very common and are responsible for almost 30,000 ER visits annually. It is very important if you have a pool that children are under supervision at all times. Be sure to minimize horse play in and around the pool.”

When it comes to fireworks-related injuries, “these are commonly burns, foreign bodies, or lacerations, predominately in the hands, fingers and eyes,” says Dr. Dircks. And be cautious with so-called “safe” fireworks, especially around children. “People think of sparklers as ‘safe’ fireworks and often give them to kids,” says Dr. Dircks.

“They burn at about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and we see a lot of burns associated with them. They are responsible for as many ER visits as firecrackers.” For more information, visit Piedmont Emergency Services.

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