How to Make Prom Night Safe and Injury Free

Prom3-FBYou can be sure that when spring arrives, prom season isn’t far behind. Sparkly gowns, both daring and demure, will be flying off racks as nervous prom date hopefuls try to outdo each other with ever more spectacular promposals. As a parent, you may be concerned about more serious prom night clichés, such as underage drinking, distracted driving and other typical prom-related rituals that can turn the magic night into an episode of ER.

As always, we’ve got you covered with expert advice to help you navigate the teen-infested waters of prom season.

The look.

For many teens, the quest to look their best on prom night begins months before the event. Crash and fad diets, over-exercising, excessive tanning and the crimping, curling and dying of hair and lashes can have lasting medical as well as immediate social consequences.

Here are 6 get-ready-for-prom tips from the CDC:

  • Get in shape slowly and wisely: Eat lots of fruits, veggies whole grains and lean protein, cut back on junk food and sugary drinks and don’t starve yourself
  • Make exercise part of your normal routine: Try to be active for 60 minutes on most days of the week, but avoid beginning a strenuous workout regimen that could derail your prom plans

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, tells you how to know when to go to the ER with back pain.

  • Get plenty of sleep each night:
    • Teens 15-17 need 8-10 hours
    • Teens 18-19 (and adults up to 64 years old) need 7-9 hours
  • Follow directions on beauty products and test them on a small area of your body to be sure you won’t have an allergic reaction

Dr. Su tells you how to spot an allergic reaction worthy of an ER trip.

  • Wear appropriate, comfortable shoes that you can walk and dance in safely
  • Forego the sun and tanning salon: Too much sun can land you in the ER, dehydrated and with an actual burn — and just a few of those episodes can cause skin cancer later in life

The drive.

More U.S. teens die in motor vehicle crashes than from any other type of injury or accident. In fact, teen drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.  However, there are proven strategies to help teens become better drivers.

The CDC suggests you make young drivers aware of these 8 danger zones and offers tips for reducing their risks:

  • Driver inexperience: Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least 6 months on a variety of roads, times of day and weather and traffic conditions
  • Driving with teen passengers: Insist that your teens follow the Texas Department of Public Safety Graduated Driver License program, which places restrictions on drivers under the age of 18, including:
    • Who they can drive
    • When they can drive
    • Cell phone/wireless communication device usage

Bypass this prom night concern by having an older sibling, relative or parent drive kids to          and from prom or go in with a group and hire a bus, limo or rideshare service.

  • Nighttime driving: Fatal crashes for drivers of all ages are more likely to happen at night, so insist on a reasonable curfew and practice driving at night when you think teens are ready
  • Seat belts: Buckling up is the simplest way to prevent car crash deaths, yet teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use
  • Distracted driving: It’s known as the new drunk driving and teen drivers 15-19 have the highest percentage of distracted driving fatalities. The worst offender is texting because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could your teens pass our texting and driving pop quiz?

Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while driving.

  • Drowsy driving: Teens should avoid driving during early morning or late night hours when possible
  • Reckless driving: Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and tailgate; the presence of teenage boys increases the likelihood of reckless driving behavior
  • Impaired driving: The number of teens who drink and drive has decreased by 54% since 1991, but even one drink can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time

If your teens aren’t convinced alcohol will impair their motor skills, try alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, including low, moderate and high.

See what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, enlisted a volunteer to try drunk goggles.

If your teen is involved in an accident, don’t assume they’re ok just because they have no visible injuries. Dr. Su explains how to know if a headache or head injury should send you to the ER for an evaluation.

If prom night takes an unexpected turn, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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How to Prevent Spring Injuries from Sidelining Your Family

Spring-Injuries5-FBMother Nature isn’t the only one who goes a little crazy in the spring. Family life gets a bit more hectic, too. Between the increase in daylight hours, a wide variety of sports and after school activities and a few holiday breaks thrown in for good measure, spring can be a challenging time to keep your family safe and healthy. So stick with us, because we’ve got your bases covered.

Tennis, anyone?

Wrestling, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, track and field, softball and baseball are just some of the activity choices your kids have in spring. Sports promote physical fitness, self-confidence and team-building skills, but each one also comes with its own set of risks.

Every year, more than 2.6 million children end up in emergency rooms with sports-related injuries, including broken bones and torn ligaments, bumps and bruises, concussions, eye injuries, heat-related injuries, scrapes and scratches and sprains and strains.

dehydration-fastertx

To help make sure your kids aren’t among those injured, follow these general sports safety tips.

  • Use proper equipment. Equipment and safety gear should be in good condition and approved by the organizations that govern each sport.
  • Inspect practice and competition areas. They should be free of holes, ruts and debris. High-impact sports should be done on forgiving surfaces, such as grass, synthetic rubber or wood, rather than concrete.
  • Insist on qualified adult supervision. The team coach should be trained in first aid and CPR, and all adults should place a high priority on safety.
  • Make sure your child is prepared. In addition to understanding the rules of the game and how to warm up and train, kids need adequate rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are among the most common sports injuries — especially in hot spots like Texas.ice-heat-fastertx

When should you take your child to the ER with an orthopedic injury?

Most sports injuries can be treated with RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. If an injury affects your child’s basic functioning in any way — he can’t bend his wrist, is limping, or has symptoms of a concussion — administer basic first aid and then see a doctor. For more serious injuries, take your child to the nearest ER.

Corey Gill, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Orthopedics Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital, discusses when a child should go to the ER with an orthopedic injury or possible broken bone.

Jump in – the water’s fine.

Swimming and diving are also popular spring sports. Swimming can be a lifelong activity and a great, low-impact way to stay fit. Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons as soon as appropriate so that they become comfortable around water and know what to do if they get in trouble. Here’s why:

Drowning facts:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years old
  • Most drownings in children 1-4 years old occur in home swimming pools
  • Among children 5-14 years old, accidental death by drowning is second only to motor vehicle crashes
  • Nearly 80% of people who drown are male
  • Drowning (called secondary or dry drowning) can occur up to 24 hours after swimming, so if your child exhibits symptoms such as consistent coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing or extreme fatigue after a day in the water, seek emergency medical treatment right away

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

The scary thing is, a person who is truly drowning (as opposed to someone experiencing aquatic distress) doesn’t behave as most of us expect. They are physically unable to move their arms, kick their legs, call for help or participate in their own rescue. Unless saved by a trained rescuer within 20 to 60 seconds, the person will submerge. Sadly, each year about 375 children drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. Sadder still, in 10 percent of those cases, an adult will actually see them drown without realizing what is happening.

Click on the image below  to watch an amazing interactive video series and see if you can spot the drowning child. It’s harder than you think.

Spring-Injures4-FB

Put on your drunk goggles.

Spring poses challenges for parents of older teens and college-age kids, too, especially during spring break.

Binge drinking.

Binge drinking is alcohol consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08% or higher. That’s about 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within a 2-hour period. Talk to your teens and pre-teens about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and driving under the influence (or riding with someone who is). Here’s what you should know.

  • Binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18 to 34
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent
  • Binge drinking is twice as high among males as females
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive impaired than non-binge drinkers
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks

If your teens think a few drinks won’t impair their motor skills, you can purchase alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several BAC levels, including low, moderate and high.

Here’s what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, recruited a volunteer and had her walk the line wearing the goggles.

Driven to distraction.

While binge drinking escalates during spring break, it can be a problem at any time of year. So can distracted driving, which is being called the new drunk driving because it’s on the rise whereas drunk driving fatalities in Texas have decreased over the last few years.

The worst culprit? Texting, because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could you pass our texting and driving pop quiz?

In the video below, Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while in the car.

If spring injuries sideline your family this year, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

Avoid Icy Injuries and Know How to Safely Fall, Y’all

family-with-snowballs-fbUnless your name is Frosty or Elsa, moving through ice and snow isn’t a natural thing. And if you live in Texas, it’s a downright unnatural thing. Heck, we can barely get around in the rain, let alone the wet stuff when it freezes. On top of that, we have this mysterious substance called black ice, which appears not to exist until you’re sliding across it.

So how do North Texans stay safe when temperatures drop and roads and walkways freeze? Practice our 3 Ps for personal and automotive safety, and you’ll be ready for the fun activities that winter brings!

  1. Planning

We all know the fickle Texas weather can be 80 degrees one day and below freezing the next. Planning ahead for possible contingencies can save time, money and maybe even a life. Here’s how:

  • Check the weather before you go.
  • If you decide it’s safe, locate the best route and share your itinerary with someone.
  • Dress accordingly. It’s easier to remove gloves or a hat than to wish you had them. Warm, waterproof shoes are essential for walking in snow or slush.
  • Give the battery in your phone a full charge before leaving and make sure you have a car charger.
  • Warm up the car and de-ice the windows, but never leave a vehicle running in a closed garage or an open attached garage. You can purchase de-icing spray at auto parts stores or create your own pre- and post-ice fix-its, such as covering the windshield with an old towel, blanket, tarp or piece of cardboard before the storm.
  • If your car becomes stuck, try this trick to get some traction: Take out your floor mats, turn them upside down (so you don’t get tire rubber on the carpet) and place them in front of and under the drive wheels.
  • If you’re still stuck and in an unfamiliar area or can’t see help within 100 yards, don’t leave your car. What you can do: Hang a bright cloth on the radio antenna, raise your hood, run the engine (and heater and dome light) for about 10 minutes each hour after making sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and other debris to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning.

     2. Preparation

The best plan is worthless unless it’s put into action, and that can only be done through thoughtful preparation. Follow these tips to help you and your family prepare for winter.

  • Save time and the hassle of car-in-snow-fb
    looking for misplaced gloves by placing a pair in the pocket of each winter jacket and coat.
  • Each family member should have at least one pair of waterproof shoes with nonslip soles.
  • Keep your walkways and sidewalks clear of ice and snow. If shoveling isn’t an option, heat and dissolve a quarter cup of rock or table salt per quart of water and pour it over icy steps and walkways. You can also use coffee grounds or cat litter to provide traction.
  • Have a mechanic check all vital car systems and tires and put in fresh antifreeze. Purchase or rent chains if needed.
  • Fill up your gas tank before starting your trip.
  • Outfit your car with an ice scraper and an emergency survival preparedness kit, which could include blankets, water, energy bars, an emergency flashlight, flares, a whistle, extra clothing, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, a gas can, extra antifreeze and other necessary items.

     3. Patience

It’s hard to be patient when you’re scrambling to get the kids in their snow gear or setting off for that long winter drive to grandma’s house. But this is the step that will really pay off and allow everyone to stay safe and secure this winter.

Have the patience to:

  • Complete all the planning and preparation steps above.
  • Wait to go out until the storm is over or conditions improve.
  • Change into shoes or boots with nonslip rubber or neoprene soles.
  • Choose a safer route for walking or driving, even if it’s longer. Walk in designated walkways whenever possible, but if they are unsafe, walk in grassy areas instead.
  • Scrape or de-ice the windows of your car so you can see clearly out of them.
  • Assume all wet, dark areas on roads and pavement are slippery and icy. Watch out for black ice!

If there is ice.

  • Walk and drive more slowly than normal.
  • When walking on ice, shuffle like a penguin, taking short steps with feet spread out slightly. This increases your center of gravity
  • Avoid steps and stairs if possible. If not, use handrails and make several trips if carrying items so you have a free hand to hold on with.
  • If you find yourself driving on ice, start braking before you normally would, gently pump brakes to avoid skidding (ABS brakes will do the work for you) and accelerate gently when taking off.
  • To steer out of a skid, take your foot off the accelerator to slow your car and regain traction, then gently steer in the direction you want to go and accelerate slowly.
  • Front-wheel drive (FWD) generally has the advantage over rear-wheel drive (RWD) in ice and snow because the weight of the engine is over the drive wheels, creating added friction. If your RWD car is stuck, try reversing until you hit pavement. For both types, try turning the wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way, rock the vehicle gently or shift from forward to reverse and back again.

If you fall.

Following the 3 Ps to  the letter will greatly reduce your risk of face-planting into a snowbank … or worse. But if you do, these tips will lessen the chance you’ll be injured.

  • Wear bulky clothes, like a big, heavy coat, to help cushion your fall.
  • Avoid landing on your knees, hands and wrists, or spine. Instead, fall on your side.
  • Relax your muscles and roll into the fall, tucking your arms and legs into a ball.
  • Call 911 or go straight to your local ER if you hit your head; are dizzy, nauseated or vomiting; experience swelling, redness or weakness; or are unable to move all or part of your body.

When there’s ice and snow, take it slow. But if you or someone in your family gets injured, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

How to Celebrate the New Year Safely

2017-fbAs we prepare to celebrate a new year, let’s take a moment to plan so that we can safely enjoy 2017 all year long and not just on opening night. Here’s a sobering statistic: In 2015, nearly 1,000 people were killed on Texas roadways by drivers who were alcohol-impaired. That’s roughly a tenth of the total number of DUI fatalities nationwide.

It’s no surprise that drunk driving crashes are more common on holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. While New Year’s Day consistently ranks with these holidays as one of the worst for DUI crashes, the number of incidents increases when the holiday falls on a weekend, as it does this year.

Walk the line.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to spy on yourself after a couple of drinks, it’s now possible through the magic of alcohol impairment simulation goggles. And yes, they’re available online. Google “drunk goggles.”

Medical City Lewisville purchased three sets of goggles, simulating low, moderate and high blood alcohol content (BAC). Here’s what happened when the hospital’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, recruited a volunteer and had her walk the line wearing the goggles.

Out on the town.
The best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid going out. But if your plans include driving, follow these tips to make it home safely.

  • Designate a sober driver or hire a limo or shuttle service for the night
  • Call a cab or an Uber if necessary, or try the NHTSA’s new SaferRide app, which allows users to identify their location and call a taxi or friend
  • Arrange to spend the night if you’re at a hotel or friend’s house
  • Confiscate the keys of friends who’ve been drinking
  • Contact local law enforcement if you see an impaired driver on the road.

Host with the most.
As a conscientious host, you want your party guests to have a great time — and make it home in one piece. Turner gives these tips for throwing a fun-yet-responsible New Year’s Eve celebration.

  • Planned activities like party games or door prizes engage people, make for less active consumption of alcohol and ensure that friends remember the great event long after the last piece of confetti has settled
  • As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the sober designated driver and/or has a plan to get home
  • Provide plenty of food to keep guests from drinking on an empty stomach
  • Avoid too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and drink more
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails” for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol
  • If preparing an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base such as fruit juice; alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream faster with a carbonated base
  • Have the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride.
  • Be ready with some clean linens so you can turn your sofa into a bed for guests who need to sleep it off

Drunk test.
See how many of these alcohol-related trivia questions, courtesy of MADD, you can answer.

  1. Impairment is determined by:

a. Type of alcohol consumed
b. Amount of alcohol consumed over time

2. Which contains more alcohol?

a. 12 ounces of beer
b. 5 ounces of wine
c. 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
d. All contain roughly the same amount of alcohol and are considered a “standard” drink

3. T or F: The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour.

4. T or F: On average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a DUI crash in their lifetime.

5. What will sober up a drunk person?

a. Coffee
b. A cold shower
c. Time
d. Exercise

6. T or F: Every two minutes, someone is injured in a DUI crash.

Answers:

  1. b
  2. d
  3. T
  4. T
  5. c
  6. T

Medical City Healthcare wishes you a safe, Happy New Year. But if you or someone in your family celebrates a bit too much, one of our many emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

Avoid Hot Car Death: How to Keep Kids Safe When it’s Hot

Hot-Car-FB

Last summer had barely begun and Texas had already suffered the tragic heat stroke deaths of 3 infants: a 7-month-old in Lufkin; a 3-year-old in Houston; and a 6-month-old in Melissa, a small North Texas town in Collin County.

That’s not even the worst of it.

According to the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University, Texas ranks No. 1 in the nation (by a country mile) for the most child vehicular heat stroke deaths, with 100 between 1998 and 2015. That’s an average of nearly 6 deaths per year, and we still have 6 months left in this one.

So what do you say we shoot for below average (very un-Texan-like, I know, but in this case a worthy goal) and take steps to prevent any more heatstroke deaths this year? Here’s how we can do it:

Know how hot is too hot.

The first hot car death of the year occurred in Georgia in mid-January. It was 52°F outside. And the child who died was 13 months old — a toddler, not an infant.

Shocked? So were we.

But when you consider it only takes 10 minutes for a car’s interior to heat up by 20 degrees and a child’s temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s (data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), it’s not hard to see how the numbers can add up quickly.

So how hot is too hot? Let’s just agree that it’s ALWAYS too hot (or too cold) to leave a child alone in a car. And the NHTSA says it makes little difference whether the windows are rolled down or not.

We need to work together to eliminate hot car deaths.

Raising kids truly does take a village. If you see a child unattended in a car, Texas has a Good Samaritan law that can protect you from civil liability if you take action to render emergency assistance.

To break a window, find an object with a sharp edge and use it to hit one of the corner edges of the window, where the glass is weakest.

9 things you can do to protect your family.

  1. Never leave kids, pets or the elderly alone in a car
  2. Teach your kids not to play in vehicles and lock doors and windows when parked
  3. Check your vehicle’s interior and trunk if your child is missing
  4. Always look in the front and back of your vehicle before locking and walking
  5. Better yet, place something that you can’t leave the car without in the backseat next to your child, such as your purse, cell phone (a great way to avoid distracted driving), briefcase or one of your shoes
  6. Call your spouse (or have him/her call you) after you’ve dropped off your child
  7. Ask day care to call if your child doesn’t show up
  8. Create a custom two-sided rearview mirror hang tag that you can flip to indicate “baby on board” or “no baby on board”
  9. Set a recurring daily reminder on your calendar or smartphone, or download a baby reminder app

Know how to spot and treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

dehydration-FB

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke don’t just happen in hot cars, so look for the signs and symptoms listed below anytime you think someone is becoming overheated.

Al West, MD trauma surgeon at Medical City Plano, says to think of heat-related illnesses as a spectrum, beginning with dehydration (and possibly including muscle cramps). In fact, if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

As dehydration progresses into heat exhaustion, symptoms may include heavy sweating; rapid, weak pulse; feeling dizzy or tired; cold, pale, clammy skin; headache; nausea or vomiting; and fainting.

Treat heat exhaustion by moving the person to a cooler location and having him sit or lie down. Give sips of water. Loosen tight clothing and look for ways to cool the person down. Children and adults who are conscious can soak in a cool bath. If you’re outside, sprinkle the person with a hose. If he fainted, apply cool, wet cloths to as much skin as possible. If the person is vomiting continuously, seek emergency medical treatment.

If heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke, many of the symptoms will be similar but magnified and may include heavy breathing and a rapid, strong pulse. You’ll know for sure that it’s heat stroke if the person’s body temperature is more than 104°F and he’s stopped sweating. His skin may be red, hot and dry.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can lead to death if left untreated or incorrectly treated. Call 911 immediately.

Treat heat stroke using the same procedures for heat exhaustion BUT DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.

Listen to Khang Tran, MD, chief medical officer of Medical City Plano, explain the basics of heat-related illnesses.

We hope you and your family stay hydrated and heat-safe all summer long, but if things get too hot, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

Sources/Links:
http://www.safercar.gov/parents/inandaroundthecar/heat-involved.html
https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/index.html
http://noheatstroke.org/
http://noheatstroke.org/state.htm
http://fox4kc.com/2015/07/21/local-glass-shop-gives-tips-on-breaking-windows-to-save-kids-in-hot-cars/
http://www.wfaa.com/news/health/kids-in-hot-cars-expert-advice-parents-need-to-know/253750785