Summer is the time for the most fun! Barbeques, summer camp, family vacations, fireworks, swimming pools… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, it’s also a prime time for accidents and injuries to adults, kids and pets. Here are some common mishaps, how to avoid them, and tips on what you can do if they happen to you.
Drowning – Nationwide, 10 people die every day from accidental drowning. Males are more likely to drown than females, and drowning is the 2nd leading cause of accidental death for children aged 1 to 14.
Some of the best ways to help avoid a drowning incident are to supervise children and create barriers between kids and water, always wear life jackets during recreational boating, and avoid alcohol use during water activities.
Poisoning – Children under the age of 6 are especially susceptible to accidental poisoning, but adults aged 45-49 are most likely to die from it. In 2006, unintentional poisonings resulted in nearly 704,000 emergency room visits, and at least one fourth of those cases resulted in hospitalization or further treatment. Men are twice as likely to die from accidental poisoning than women.
To lower the risk of accidental poisoning, be familiar with your prescriptions and how they might interact with other drugs. Never leave prescriptions or over-the-counter medications where children can reach them. Don’t take medicine in front of your children – they like to copy adults. Keep household chemicals in their original packages and don’t mix them with any other chemical.
The national poison control center telephone number is 800-222-1222. This line is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Fire – Fires start in many ways. An adult might inadvertently leave the stove on, a spark might be generated by an electrical wire or outlet, a child might play with matches or a lighter. No matter how it starts, a small fire can become large very quickly – in only a matter of minutes. You and your family should create and review an escape plan, and practice it regularly.
Falls – Falls are the leading cause of injury for all adults, and the leading cause of injury deaths for older adults. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Men are more likely to die from a fall, and women are more likely to sustain a nonfatal injury. Children often fall from playground equipment, even when supervised.
The best ways for adults to prevent falls are to remain active, have your eyes checked regularly, be sure your home has adequate lighting, and reduce hazards such as stray items on the floor.
This list is only the tip of the injury iceberg! When you enjoy a summer barbeque, be aware of the possibility of burns. Don’t let your pet pick up a piping hot piece of food that has fallen from the grill – he could burn his mouth. Be aware of poison oak and ivy when you take your kids on a nature hike. Adults and kids alike should always wear helmets when bicycling. Use extra caution in driveways and parking lots, and teach your children to be extra careful anywhere vehicles are present. And remember that the incidence of all preventable accidents and injuries goes up when alcohol is involved.
As always, if you believe you are faced with a life threatening emergency, the first thing you should do is call 911. Remind your children that they can always call 911 for free from any public phone. Keep in mind that in Houston and many other major cities, call volume to 911 can double during foul weather or special social or sporting events. Become familiar with common injuries and how to handle them before they happen, and you’ll be better prepared to help out if something happens.
Check out these websites for more information.
- The CDC’s information and tips for preventing and responding to injuries
- The Houston Fire Department website is a great resource for information about safety.
- The Houston Fire Department’s Safety Info page that includes links to English and Spanish versions of numerous safety topics.
- The Houston Fire Department’s free download on Apartment Safety.
- The Houston Fire Department teaches you how to make your own first aid kit.
Here are a few more numbers you should keep in a handy place.
- Houston Fire Department (713) 247-5000
- Houston Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (713) 495-4200
- Houston Police Department (713) 884-3131
- Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital – (281) 644-7000
- Northeast Medical Center Hospital – (281) 540-7700
- M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – (877) MDA-6789
- The Methodist Hospital – (713) 790-3311
- St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital – (713) 785-8537, (832) 355-1000
- Texas Children’s Hospital – (800) 364-KIDS, (832) 824-1000
- St. Joseph Medical Center – (713) 757-7575
- Houston Northwest Medical Center – (281) 440-1000
- Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital – (713) 867-2000
- Clear Lake Regional Medical Center – (281) 332-2511
- Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital – (281) 929-6100
- Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital – (281) 456-5000
A number of emergency facilities for pets are located throughout Houston and the surrounding area. Talk to your veterinarian about what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency, or check out these websites.
Have a happy and safe summer!