West Orange, U.S.A. — With summer in full swing, children and adults are spending more time outdoors – and with that comes the risk for more accidents, injuries and heat-related complications.
“Swimming, biking, and other summer sports are all great activities that offer exercise and other health benefits,” said Dr. Karen Kepler of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. “But studies show that the potential for sprains, strains and broken bones, as well as more serious brain and spinal cord injuries, increases during the summer months. Many of these injuries can be attributed to the simple fact that more people are outdoors doing more things: whether it’s travelling to the beach, lake or pool; going boating; pursuing more extreme hiking and mountain biking; or just playing at the local playground. And what can make matters worse are the high temperatures and humidity levels that can result in heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.”
Children are at particular risk. For example, nearly 40 percent of playground-related injuries occur between May and September when children are out of school, spending more time outdoors and often without adequate supervision. It is estimated that this summer children will be rushed to emergency departments nearly 3 million times for serious injuries and more than 2500 children will lose their lives due to an unintentional injury, according to a recent National Safe Kids Campaigns study.
To help minimize the risk of injury, Kessler Institute, a national leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, offers the following safety and prevention tips for children and adults:
Dehydration can often lead to heat cramps, which typically affect the muscles in the legs, arms or midsection, and heat exhaustion, which can cause profuse sweating, vomiting, headaches and muscle spasms. Most serious, however, is heat stroke, which occurs when the body is unable to adequately cool itself. Heat stroke, often characterized by a lack of sweating, elevated temperature, confusion and other mental changes, is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Note that children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses because their central nervous system, which regulates body temperature, is not yet fully developed.
“The majority of heat-related illnesses and summer injuries can be minimized by paying extra attention to weather conditions, as well as the level of physical activity. Similarly, both adults and children need to be aware of basic safety precautions when swimming, biking, playing or otherwise enjoying outdoor activities at home or on vacation,” suggests Dr. Kepler.