Summer Safety Digest: 13 Things You Need to Know for a Safe, Sane Season

LifeSigns-FB-2Yo, summer! You think you’re pretty hot here in North Texas, don’t you? Well, okay, you are … but we’ve got tips for how to chill and enjoy all you have to offer without ending up in the ER. Here’s a roundup of our best summer safety advice.

Top 3 Summer Safety Tips from an Emergency Medicine Physician.

Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, gives her 3 top tips for sailing through summer safely and injury-free:

10 More Tips for Summer Safety.

There’s nothing quite like a top 10 list. In this case, we’re actually giving you 13, but who’s counting? All that really matters is that your family stays safe so you can stay sane.

Your comprehensive guide to mosquito-borne illnesses.


Alison Wortman, MD, a maternal and fetal medicine physician with Medical City Alliance, discusses the signs and symptoms of Zika virus.

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_RevisedIf your summer plans get derailed by breaks, aches, bug bites or snakes, 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.

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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.


  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.

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Happy Holidays: How to Go Up On the Housetop and Come Down Safely

holiday-safety-tips1-fbWhen my daughter was a teenager, she fell through the floor of our garage attic while helping her dad put away Christmas decorations. She landed backside-first on the windshield of my SUV and miraculously, the safety glass cushioned her fall. She was sore for a few days but was otherwise unhurt. Taking a fall that may leave you in need of emergency care is sure to dampen your holiday cheer.

According to Matthew Carrick, MD, a general surgeon at Medical City Plano, this happens more often than you might think. In fact, emergency rooms see an increase in patients at this time of year, not only from the more than 30 percent increase in heart attacks and other heart-related problems that happen in winter or the rise in the number of holiday burns and cuts, but also from slip and fall injuries to people preparing for and enjoying the season.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission puts the number of people injured while decorating for the holidays during November and December at more than 12,000 every year since 2009, with about 14,500 in 2014. That’s roughly 240 people per day. At least a third of those are injured in some type of fall.

“As it starts to get a little cooler, everyone starts to get excited about the holidays,” said Carrick. “They start getting out the decorations and putting them up, and this is when we start to see a lot of injuries. One that you wouldn’t think is very common, but actually happens a lot, is people falling through the floor of their attic into their house. You need to be very careful walking around inside your attic getting your Christmas decorations down.”

From experience, I can tell you that this means making sure the attic area is well lit and not so packed with stuff that it’s hard to get around. Most importantly, everyone needs to know where the finished area (the part with the flooring) begins and ends.

“When it gets a little bit colder, every once in a while it will ice up and most Texans aren’t too sure about how to walk on ice,” Carrick said. “So every autumn and winter we get a lot of falls related to people decorating for the holidays and people slipping and falling on ice.”

We asked Dr. Carrick and Mathis Adams, MD, trauma director at Medical City McKinney, for their best holiday safety tips.

Just don’t fall, y’all.

“This is really important, especially for our older adults, said Dr. Adams. “Even a relatively simple fall could have dire health consequences. Make sure that extension cords and other floor decorations are out of walking paths, especially in the homes of our elderly, to prevent tripping hazards.”

Ladders can be particularly troublesome, but certainly better than a chair or other makeshift climbing device.

Dr. Carrick agrees. “You need to be especially aware if you’re taking any aspirin or blood thinning medications, because these put you at increased risk for internal hemorrhaging or bleeding after a fall from a ladder,” he said.

elfshelf_fbbanner_1200x627Top 5 ladder safety tips.

  • Use a ladder that safely reaches higher levels (extends at least 3 feet over the working surface)
  • Have someone steady the ladder
  • Place the ladder on firm, level ground away from doors that can be opened
  • Fully open the ladder by checking all rung locks and spreader braces
  • Download the CDC’s free, award-winning NIOSH Ladder Safety App, which includes:
    • A ladder selection tool to help you choose the right ladder for the job
    • An angle measuring tool for extension ladders
    • An inspection tool with a comprehensive mechanical checklist
    • A proper use tool with a set of rules for safe ladder use
    • An accessories tool to help you customize your extension ladder

Watch Melanie Leonard, RN, trauma program manager at Medical City North Hills, for more ladder safety stats and tips.

5 bonus holiday safety tips from Dr. Adams.

  • Keep trees away from fireplaces and radiators
  • Place candles and menorahs away from curtains and flammable decorations
  • Ensure that tree light wires and extension cords are intact
  • Some live plants are poisonous, so place cautiously around children or pets
  • Be careful about where you place decorations that have sharp edges, are breakable or are small enough for children to grab and swallow

“The most important message is to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the holidays,” said Dr. Adams. “This is the most challenging thing for all of us to do at this time of year, but we still need to enforce safety measures. A few seconds of inattentiveness or risky behavior can derail the course of a healthy life forever.”

We wish you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season, but if someone in your family takes a major spill, 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.

Visit to find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

About Becky   Becky Frusher

Becky Frusher and her husband, Ron, have raised two kids and a number of cats to adulthood. Currently a health writer, Becky enjoys cycling, British TV series and movies from nearly every era and genre.



How to Play with Fire and Not Cook Your Goose on Turkey Day

real-men-2016-fbWe know why you guys like the fall holiday season. Besides feasting and football, there are legitimate reasons to play with fire and knives. Fair enough. So here’s what you need to know to prevent and treat burns and cuts.

Last year, we told you that real men wear mitts to prevent burns (and burning down the house) while cooking Thanksgiving dinner — specifically, deep-fried turkey. But did you listen? Maybe some of you did. But from others we heard the all-too familiar, “Relax, we’ve done this a million times.” Famous last words if there ever were any.

So, okay, we won’t nag you about combustible turkeys again, even though Texas led the nation in deep-fried turkey fires eight years in a row. However, we’d like to remind you that cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home injuries in Texas and that on Thanksgiving Day, the number of cooking fires is triple that of an average day.

Which makes this a great time for a quick refresher course on fire and burn safety. Ready? Here it is:

Top 5 rules of cooking fire safety:

Follow these hard and fast rules at all times and you’ll be on your way to a safe supper.

  1. Man your pan, man: never leave your cooking unattended
  2. Wear oven mitts and roll up long sleeves
  3. Keep small children and pets away from all flammable heat sources
  4. Grills, fire pits and yes — fryers — should be used outdoors only and away from flammable structures and trees
  5. Keep pot lids close by to smother flames and have at least one fire extinguisher in your home and know how to use it

Sometimes you’re doing everything right and disaster still strikes. That’s what happened to Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Chris Kouba, who was engulfed in the flames of a grease fire while cooking on his stovetop. Thankfully, Prosper EMS took him straight to Medical City Plano’s Burn & Reconstructive Center, which offers advanced burn care to patients from Texas and surrounding states.

If you are involved in a fire:

  • Don’t panic
  • Remove yourself from whatever is burning; stop, drop and roll
  • Check closed doors with the back of your hand; if hot, don’t open
  • Stay low to the ground and follow your escape plan
  • Call 911 and seek treatment for burns

Matthew Carrick, MD, trauma medical director at Medical City Plano, explains what to do in a burn emergency.

Put that down, you’ll cut yourself.

In addition to burn injuries, many people accidentally cut themselves over the Thanksgiving holiday. Know how we know? We asked Tim Hartman, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City ER Stonebridge.

“Last year, we saw a lot of cuts in the ER,” said Dr. Hartman. “The first 6 patients we had on Thanksgiving were all hand lacerations, ranging from a fellow with a hunting knife working on a deer to mothers working on turkeys in the kitchen and opening cans.”

Dr. Hartman says people are often unsure how to tell when a cut is severe enough to go to their local emergency room.

“First of all, if the wound is dirty, such as from a hunting knife, you’re probably going to want to go to the ER and let us wash it out thoroughly,” Dr. Hartman said. “Secondly, if you’re not able to stop the bleeding at home, you need to come in to the ER.”

Watch Dr. Hartman’s video for these tips and more, including when it’s a good idea to use tissue glue on your kids’ cuts and when it’s not.

Safe knife handling tips.

Most cooking lacerations can be avoided by following these cutting safety tips:

  • Always use the correct knife (size and blade) and a cutting board
  • Use sharp knives; dull blades cause more accidents
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing; don’t multitask
  • Don’t attempt to catch a falling knife
  • Don’t leave knives in the sink; wash them immediately and put them away

BurnInfographicFINALWe wish you and your family a very safe and happy Thanksgiving, but if famous last words leave you in need of expert emergency care, one of our many Medical City Healthcate 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.

Visit to find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

Know How to Celebrate Fourth of July Safely


Let freedom ring this summer with yummy grilled foods, family fun and fireworks!

As parents, we work really hard to keep our children healthy and safe. We would never, for example, encourage them to pick up a burning ember or touch a hot grill. If we’re so protective of our offspring, why then do we, once a year (at least), knowingly hand even the younger ones a lit fireball and cheer as they wave it a mere arm’s length from their little faces? I’m not suggesting we abolish sparklers — those ever-present Fourth of July fireworks kids all over North Texas wave in celebration of Independence Day — not at all.

But we are talking about playing with fire.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2014 there were approximately:

  • 10,500 fireworks-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms
  • About 7,000 (67%) treated between June 20 and July 20

Of those treated:

  • 74% were males/26% were females
  • 50% were under 20 years old and 35% were under 15 years old
  • Children 5 to 9 years old were the age group most treated
  • Approximately 1,400 were injured by sparklers and 1,400 by firecrackers

So it can’t hurt to brush up on how hot things can get on the Fourth. From fireworks to grilling to campfires and s’mores, we’ll give you tips to keep your family burn-free.

How hot can things get? See if you can match each activity to its degree of heat:

1.    Water boils at a)    700°F
2.    Cakes bake at b)    1200°F (and up to 2,000°F)
3.    Wood burns at c)    350°F
4.    Sparklers burn at d)    212°F
5.    Charcoal in a Smokey Joe® grill burns at e)    575°F

A couple of them are pretty easy. You probably know water boils at 212°F and most cakes bake at 350°F. But what about the others? Read on to find the answers.

Starry, starry night.

There’s nothing quite like a Fourth of July fireworks show to make you feel good about living in the U.S. of A. Here’s how to enjoy yours safely:

  • Consider attending one of the many DFW fireworks shows and leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals
  • If that’s not an option, know and obey all local laws regarding fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors in areas clear of people, homes, trees and other flammable materials
  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby
  • Supervise children at all times and don’t allow horseplay
  • Don’t give fireworks to children younger than 5 years old; even those considered “safe” like sparklers, which burn at 1,200°F and higher
  • Don’t relight duds; soak them in water and dispose of them
  • Don’t try to light fireworks in the dark; use a non-flammable light source so you can see what you’re doing
  • Wear safety goggles and heat-resistant gloves

Following these commonsense tips should ensure a fun and sparkly independence day, but be sure you know what to do if someone gets burned.


Grill master.

You’re the king of kebabs. The ruler of ribs. The minister of meat. You’re the grill master. But are you practicing grilling safety? According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • In 2014, 16,600 people sought ER treatment for grilling injuries
  • More grill fires happen May through August, and July is No. 1
  • While gas grills start more home fires than charcoal grills, coals in a Smokey Joe® grill burn at 700°F and higher.

The rules of safe grilling are pretty simple:

  • Use grills outdoors away from flammable structures
  • Man your grill at all times
  • Keep a squirt bottle of water or a fire extinguisher handy
  • Keep kids and pets away from grills
  • Wear high-heat oven mitts and use utensils made for grilling
  • Keep your grill clean and check propane connection points annually

Cooking over an open wood fire.

It might be too hot to gather around a wood fire in the middle of summer, but it’s still a great way to cook your meats and marshmallow treats. Here’s what happens when you light the fire:

  • At 212°F, any water inside the wood boils and escapes as steam

This is typically when dad starts squirting lighter fluid like there’s no tomorrow. And why it’s a good idea to start with dry wood.

  • At around 575°F the wood begins to burn from the release of combustible gases that ignite when they contact an open flame

But that’s just the beginning. As the gases continue to burn, they can raise the temperature of the wood to 1,100°F or even higher, depending on the size of the fire and other dynamics.

Fiery fact: You can receive a third-degree burn from as little as 1 second of contact with a piece of wood heated to 160°F.

Here’s how to stay safe around the campfire:

  • Build fires in designated pits on flat, open areas away from flammable objects
  • Use only seasoned hardwoods and natural kindling to light and maintain fires
  • Wear high-temp oven mitts and use appropriate outdoor cooking utensils to hold food over flames
  • Adults should remove cooked food from skewers to avoid burning little hands
  • An adult should supervise the fire at all times until it has been completely extinguished

For more fire safety and burn prevention tips, read Don’t Get Burned: Know the Top Rules of Fire Safety.

Medical City Healthcare wishes you and your family a safe, happy Fourth, but if things get too hot, you’ll be glad to know we have 17 emergency locations with FastERTX average wait times posted online. Visit to find the ER nearest you.

For serious burn treatment, Medical City Plano Burn & Reconstructive Centers of Texas provides high-level burn care and serves patients from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana and beyond.