Break Point's Sunny Summertime Issue
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program
For months we have been waiting for the warmer weather to arrive so we can
get outdoors and enjoy the short summer. Even though this is the
"vacation season" don't take a vacation from safety issues.
Many people want to get in shape for the swimsuit season and begin an
exercise program without taking time to prepare their bodies for the added
stress. This issue will provide tips to help you safely get in shape.
Summertime is also the time for severe weather, particularly lightening and
thunderstorms. Don't be caught in a storm this summer.
This is the time to get outdoors, plant your garden, and maintain your
lawn. Learn some safety tips to enjoy gardening safely.
Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock
Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program.
Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy
O'Day with any comments or questions.
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The "Weekend Warriors" Guide to Fitness Safety
Regular exercise is a smart part of a healthy lifestyle and being physically fit
can help prevent injuries especially later in life. However, failure to
plan a fitness routine and giving your body time to prepare for the added stress
can lead to injury. Walking, for example, might be virtually injury free,
but ignore traffic on your walk and you could end up with a broken leg...or
Focus your attention on proper planning before you begin to exercise.
If you plan to exercise outdoors, keep safety in mind. Here are some tips
to help keep injuries at bay:
- Walk or run against vehicular traffic, except on a blind curve when you
use the outside of the curve.
- Make sure your shoes are well cushioned and have adequate support.
- Look both ways when entering a trail or road. Pay attention to the
cars and bicycles in your path. Even though you are not driving, you
need to adhere to the rules of the road.
- Wear gear that is appropriate for your sport and make sure it is fitted
- Cycle with traffic and obey all traffic signals.
- Ride your bicycle single file on the road.
- Warm up slowly before exercising, allow time for a cool down and stretch.
- Drink plenty of water especially if you will be exercising in warmer
- Avoid exercising in the middle of the afternoon. Choose the cooler
mornings or evenings.
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Make Your July 4th Safe
According to Prevent Blindness America, nearly 13,000 fireworks victims keep
hospitals busy every year. More than half of those treated are
children. Fireworks not only injure users, but also 40 percent of
fireworks injuries are to bystanders.
The three types of fireworks that keep hospital emergency departments busy
during this holiday period are bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers.
Bottle rockets and firecrackers can fly in any direction prior to exploding and
sparklers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt gold!
One of the reasons fireworks injuries continue to occur is because people
just don't consider how dangerous these devices can be. People often don't
realize-until they are injured- that the risk of blindness or injury outweighs
the excitement of taking risks with fireworks. Giving fireworks to young
children can mean a trip to the hospital.
Take this fireworks safety quiz. Answer true or false. Don't let
fireworks injuries ruin your holiday.
- Only people who are careless or unsupervised are injured from
False. Fireworks are unpredictable; therefore the risk of injury is
present no matter how many precautions you take. The best way to avoid
injury is not to use fireworks.
- Only people who set off fireworks risk injuries.
False. Many bystanders are injured from "runaway"
fireworks. No one is completely safe around fireworks. 40
percent of injuries occur to bystanders.
- Males are more likely to get hurt from fireworks.
True. since men and boys are the most common fireworks users, they
account for the most injuries. 4 out of 5 injuries occur to men
between the ages of 22-44 and 12-14.
- Homemade fireworks are just as safe as store bought fireworks.
False. Homemade fireworks are more dangerous because the chemical
compounds combined created a larger explosion. Homemade fireworks are
illegal in every state.
- Using fireworks is an inexpensive way to celebrate the Fourth of July.
False. The cost of treatment of fireworks injuries far outweighs the
cost of the fireworks. There are also high costs for fireworks damage
to property as well.
- My state bans fireworks.
Illinois law bans the use of fireworks with the exception of novelty
items such as snakes and smoke bombs.
- Fireworks injuries can only occur during the Fourth of July.
False. Fireworks injuries can happen at any time during the
year. The potential for injury is present any time you use fireworks.
- Sparklers are safe fireworks and can be given to children.
False. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees. Severe burn injuries occur
when children touch the heated metal even when the sparkler has burned
out. Clothing can ignite from the sparks.
- Gunpowder is a major ingredient in most types of fireworks.
True. Most fireworks contain gunpowder. Firecrackers contain up
to 50mg of Gunpowder.
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Gardening Safety Tips
According to the National Gardening Association, two out of three American
households take part in some gardening activity each year. Chores vary
regionally but include: raking leaves, transplanting trees and shrubs, planting
spring-flowering bulbs and perennials, removing dead branches from trees,
controlling troublesome weeds, and law mowing. Whether you're a master
gardener or budding amateur, keep these safety tips in mind.
Avoid overexposure to sun. Limit the time you spend working in
direct sunlight by gardening during early-morning or late-afternoon hours.
This way, you'll avoid the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. time period when the sun's rays are
Protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants instead of shorts,
and a wide-brimmed hat. When skin is exposed, apply sunscreen with an
SPF of at least 15. Heat stress can also be a risk; thus keep water by
your side to remain hydrated. Remember to take frequent breaks by going
indoors and relaxing in front of a fan.
Warm up. Cumulative injuries, such as tennis elbow or tendonitis
occur when people overextend themselves on a job they tackle only once or twice
a year. Stretch your upper-body muscles before heading outside. For
overwhelming tasks, enlist help from family members, take frequent breaks, and
spread the job across several days or hire professional help. Also,
pulling weeds can result in pain.
To prevent strains and sprains, consider the following:
- Keep your back erect when working at ground level and when using
long-handled tools, such as spades and rakes.
- Bend at your knees and hips to lift objects. Alternate or use
both arms whenever possible.
- Keep your elbows bent. Don't rest your body weight on your
elbows. Grip hand tools lightly. Work below shoulder level
whenever possible. If you must work above shoulder level, perform the
task for five minutes or less. Be careful with power equipment.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 400,000 people are
treated in hospital emergency departments each year for injuries from lawn and
garden tools. To prevent a mishap, read equipment-operating instructions
and be aware of your surroundings.
Consider the following when operating power tools:
- Know how to operate equipment. Read the manual and follow all
instructions. Wear long pants, close fitting clothes, sturdy shoes and
safety glasses. Don't wear anything that could get caught in moving
parts, such as loose jewelry. Tie back long hair. Handle gas
carefully. Fill up before you start - when the engine is cold.
Clear the area of rocks, twigs, toys and anything that could be thrown by
- Keep children and pets away from the area until you're
finished. Never carry a child as a passenger on a riding mower.
- Keep your hands and feet away from moving parts. Never work
on equipment when it's running.
- Don't point the blower nozzle of a leaf blower toward people or pets.
- Use a dust mask in a dusty or dirty environment.
- Wear earplugs when using noisy equipment, such as leaf blowers or
- Don't drink and use garden equipment.
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Be Prepared for Sudden Severe Weather
Spring and summer are the seasons that produce sudden and severe weather that
include lightning, high winds, and tornadoes.
Avoidance and prevention are the best means of lightning safety.
Although total avoidance may be difficult, the risks can be minimized.
Approximately 100 to 600 people die annually in the United States as a result
of lightning. Serious injuries are caused in about 1000 to 1500 persons
each year. There are more deaths caused by lightning than any other
natural phenomena including floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.
There are several mechanisms of lightning injury. The most severe is
the direct strike, either on the victim or on some object the victim is holding
such as a golf club, tripod or umbrella. A "side flash" occurs
when lightning hits a nearby object and jumps to the victim. Ground
current injures the victim when lightning strikes the ground nearby and spreads
to the person. Rarely, people may be injured or killed indoors while using
the telephone or taking a shower. Burns may occur from jewelry, clothing
or other heated material. Finally, blunt injury and trauma may occur
secondary to the shockwave from a lightning strike or from a resulting fall.
Injuries occur to persons whom their jobs require them to be outside such as,
postal and construction workers. The numbers of farmers injured have
decreased over the years due to farmers working in larger fields and ride in
better protected fields. Injuries during recreation have increased.
Injuries occur to joggers, hikers and campers as well as golfers. In
addition, a significant number of people are injured while participating in team
Although lightning is seemingly random, there are some things you can do to
minimize your risks if you are caught in the open during a thunderstorm:
- Avoid being the tallest object in the area, get as low as you can, but
don't lie on the ground.
- Do not stand near the tallest object in the vicinity, like an isolated
tree. Sheltering from the rain under a tree is often a factor in
people being struck.
- There is no "warning sign" that will tell you reliably that
lightning is about to strike. The time from the flash to the thunder
is rough measure of how distant the lightning is. If you see a flash
and count the seconds, five seconds corresponds to about a mile.
However, there is no distance from a thunderstorm that is absolutely
safe! If you can see the lightning, then you are under some threat.
- Avoid being near fence lines and power lines that lead into areas where
lightning is occurring. A flash can travel along the wires and jump to
- G/Call for medical help immediately if someone is struck! In the
meantime, administer CPR to any lightning strike victim if their heart has
stopped and they have stopped breathing. If they are simply not
conscious, treat for shock (not electrical shock). There is often a
danger of hypothermia for victims especially if they've been in the rain.
- Use the "30/30" rule: take shelter if the time from seeing a
flash to the time you hear thunder is 30 seconds or less and don't resume
activities until 30 minutes have elapsed from the last lightning strike and
The information on the Loyola University Health System
(LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.
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