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.

zika

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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Summer Camp Safety: What You Need to Know Before They Go

Summer-CampFBEvery year in the U.S., more than 14 million children and adults attend camp. The American Camp Association (ACA) counts 8,400 resident (overnight) camps and 5,600 day camps from which to choose. In addition to staples such as horseback riding, archery, swimming, hiking and crafting, camps are adding new programs to appeal to a wider audience. Some of these include gardening, college planning, health and wellness, community service and cooking.

From the most adventurous to the tamest, there’s one thing all camps have in common: illness and injuries. Nothing ruins a camp experience faster than a trip to the ER, so we’ll tell you how to keep your kids safe from the most common camp injuries and what they should do in a lightning storm.

Something in the food, water or my cabin mate made me sick.

Kids at camp (and the camp staff) are more than twice as likely to get sick than injured. Possible problems and helpful tips to avoid them include:

  • Gastroenteritis, food poisoning and other stomach pains from contaminated food or water
    • Have a discussion with kids about food safety, including washing hands before meals; eating raw or uncooked foods; sharing food; and eating from potentially contaminated sources such as salad bars
    • Teach kids not to swallow pool or lake water
  • Asthma and allergies
    • Make sure kids pack adequate amounts of medication, including epi-pens if needed
  • Infectious illnesses, such as colds, flu and even mumps and measles, which are making a comeback
    • Make sure kids are up to date on their vaccinations, including tetanus; get yours (and a physical for camp, if necessary) at one of 29 DFW CareNow locations
    • Teach kids to cough and sneeze properly and the correct way to wash their hands

 

Camp — it’s a trip.

According to the ACA, trips, slips and falls are the injuries most commonly reported at camp. In fact, sprains and strains make up nearly 30% of all camp injuries and are often related to rough terrain and improper footwear. Here’s how to protect your kids from fall and collision injuries, including broken bones and concussion:

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Make sure your kids can swim like a fish.

If the camp you’ve selected offers recreational swimming — and 86% of them do — it’s imperative that children know how to swim and have a good grasp on water safety rules. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause for ages 5-14.

In addition to the obvious safety implications, most camps require kids to pass a swim test on the first day. Those who don’t pass must stay in designated areas designed for younger kids, which can be awkward and embarrassing for older children.

Packing over-the-counter ear drops and insisting that kids use them before and after swimming and showers can help keep moisture out of the ear canal and prevent swimmer’s ear.

When thunder roars, go indoors.

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there are an average of 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during some 100,000 thunderstorms each year in the U.S. Lightning storms can happen anytime but are more frequent — and cause more deaths and injuries — in spring and summer. In fact, the Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of year for lightning.

Here are some tips for weathering a lightning storm:

  • Teach your kids this rhyme: When thunder roars, go indoors. Even if they can’t see lightning, it can strike as far as 10 miles away from the storm
  • If your hair stands up, get inside quick: This could be a (very bad) sign that positive charges are rising through you, reaching toward the negatively charged storm — seek shelter immediately
  • Choose shelter wisely: The safest place is a building with plumbing and electricity because those provide a path for lightning to travel down to the ground. Stay away from windows and anything that conducts electricity, including landline telephones, which are the No. 1 way people get struck by lightning indoors. A car with a metal roof is also a safer place to be than outside (but don’t touch anything metal), near water, under a tree (No. 2 cause of lightning casualties) or in a building without plumbing or electricity
  • If you’re unavoidably caught outside: Don’t be, be near, or be under the tallest object — and ditch the umbrella!
  • When it’s safe, you can help someone who’s been struck by lightning: Unlike someone in contact with a telephone line or other live wire, a lightning victim is not electrified and may need immediate emergency medical treatment for cardiac arrest, burns or other injuries

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_Revised

If your child gets injured at camp, 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 Much Water Do You Need to Drink Every Day?

Woman-Drinking-Water-FBDid you know that you’re mostly made of water? If you’re an adult female, you’re about 55% water. Men are about 60% because they typically have more lean tissue (which contains more water) and women have more fatty tissue (which contains less water). Younger people have more (babies are born at about 78%) and older folks have less (about 50%).

Approximate percentages of water in various body parts:

  • Blood 92%
  • Lungs 83%
  • Muscles and kidneys 79%
  • Heart and brain 73%
  • Skin 64%
  • Bones 31%

Yes, even your bones are nearly one-third H2O. And yet two-thirds of us — nearly 70% — aren’t drinking enough water to keep our bodies functioning properly. It doesn’t take much to throw off the balance and become dehydrated. Don’t let something as simple as drinking enough water send you to the ER — it’s really not a story you’ll look forward to telling around the water cooler.

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When does dehydration occur?

  • At just 1% dehydration, or when you’ve lost 1% of your body’s water, mental performance and physical coordination start to become impaired — and you’re not even thirsty yet
  • At 2-3% dehydration, you’ll feel thirsty and possibly some of these other symptoms:
    • Fatigue, lethargy, fuzzy thinking
    • Irritability
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Dry mouth and skin
    • Muscle cramps
    • Rapid pulse (100 beats/minute or higher)
    • Fever and chills

Bryan Thibodeau, MD, an emergency medicine and pediatrics specialist at Medical City Children’s Hospital, cautions parents to look for these signs of dehydration in infants and babies:

  • Sunken fontanelle (soft spot on the head)
  • Limp/inactive
  • Dry lips/tongue/mouth
  • Crying without tears
  • Pale or mottled skin

Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially for infants, children and older people. If someone you know shows signs of dehydration, seek immediate emergency medical treatment.

Why our bodies need water.

Besides being the primary building block for all cells, water is vital to the health of every system in our bodies. Among other important functions, water

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Transports nutrients and waste materials
  • Aids digestion
  • Cushions the brain and spinal cord
  • Keeps eyes and mouths moist
  • Lubricates joints
  • Can prevent heartburn, constipation and kidney stones
  • Manages heartbeat, blood pressure and electrolyte (sodium) balance

Did you know water can also help prevent heart attacks? A study at Loma Linda University found that dehydration thickens the blood, making it harder for the heart to pump and increasing the risk of blood clots. Study participants who drank just 40 ounces of water a day cut their risk for heart attacks by 54% for men and 41% for women.

How much water is enough?

The old advice to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is just that — a good starting point but outdated because it was never really accurate. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation for daily water intake. How much you need depends on:

  • How much you weigh (a larger person needs more water)
  • Your activity level
  • Your metabolism
  • Your geographic location (people who live in hot, dry climates need more water)
  • The weather
  • Your diet (how much water are you getting from the foods you eat?)
  • Your health (fever, vomiting, diarrhea and some medications and conditions can increase your water needs)

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_Revised

The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you drink enough water so that you’re rarely thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow, you’re probably doing fine. If you’re always thirsty and your urine is dark yellow with a strong odor, you need to get chugging. If you just don’t like water, try getting it in soups, smoothies and high-water content fruits and vegetables.

If someone in your family is feeling the effects of dehydration, 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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When Insects Sting: How to Avoid Allergic Reactions

Stings-Wasp-FBIf you think Texas has it all, you’re right — including all five insects whose stings are known to cause allergic reactions: fire ants, honeybees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets. Yay us.

It’s estimated that roughly 2 million Americans are allergic to the venom of stinging insects. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), it’s not uncommon to have a “normal” reaction the first few times and then experience increasingly severe reactions with each subsequent sting.

Types of reactions that can occur with insect stings:

  • A normal local reaction, which includes pain, swelling and redness at the sting site.
  • A large local reaction, which results in swelling that extends well beyond the sting site — such as a sting on your hand that causes your whole arm to swell. Swelling usually peaks several days after the sting and can last up to a week or more.
  • A systemic allergic reaction is a severe allergic reaction and requires immediate medical attention, such as calling 911 or going to the closest ER. Symptoms can include:
    • Hives
    • Itchy skin
    • Flushing
    • Swelling beyond the sting site
    • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
    • Hoarseness, swelling of the tongue or difficulty swallowing
    • Abdominal pain, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
    • Fainting or cardiac arrest
  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs when the body releases an overdose of allergen-fighting chemicals, sending the body into shock. It’s life-threatening and can worsen quickly. Additional symptoms can include:
    • Breathing problems
    • Constricted throat
    • Rapid heart beat
    • Feeling of doom

People who have a known or suspected allergy to insect stings should carry at least one self-injectable epinephrine pen at all times; the ACAAI recommends two for those who have had a possible systemic reaction.

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, discusses signs that an allergic reaction should send you to the ER.

When the bee stings.

Texas Parks and Wildlife offers these tips for treating normal (mild) sting reactions:

  • Remove the stinger
  • Wash sting site with soap and water
  • Cover and keep clean
  • Apply cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling
  • Administer over-the-counter pain relievers and cortisone/anti-itch cream
  • Mild allergic reactions can be treated with antihistamines (Benadryl)

It’s important to act fast if someone who may be allergic has been stung.

“Allergic reactions can come on suddenly and without much warning,” said Scott Corcoran, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City McKinney. “Whether it’s from a bee sting, an ant bite, a peanut or even a strawberry, various things can cause allergic reactions that can be quite serious. Symptoms can include a rash, such as hives, nausea and vomiting, swelling of the eyes, mouth and throat and eventually, the airway closes off. If any of those symptoms are present, patients need to come to the ER right away.”

How to avoid stinging pests and their nests.

Follow the ACAAI’s helpful tips for avoiding insect stings:

Stings-Bee-FB

  • An open soda can is like bait to a flying stinger — keep sugary drinks covered or better yet, drink water!
  • Same goes for food — keep it covered
  • DO wear
    • Close-toed shoes when walking in grass or brush; this is where stinging insects forage
    • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks and gloves for working outside
  • DO NOT wear
    • Sweet-smelling perfumes, hair products, deodorants, etc.
    • Bright-colored clothing or flowery patterns
  • Be extra cautious near bushes, eaves, trash cans, picnic areas and in attics
  • Call a professional exterminator to inspect for and remove pests and their nests

If someone in your family has an allergic reaction, 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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Bikes, Trikes, Scooters and Skates: How to Stay Out of the ER

Scooters2-FBWheels. No matter how young or old you are, these Bronze Age inventions not only represent freedom; they provide it. From your first tricycle to your first car or truck and everything in between, wheels take you where you want to go faster (and in better style) than you could get there on your own. So it’s not surprising that Americans are crazy for all things wheeled, including skateboards, scooters, roller and inline skates, bicycles, tricycles, three-wheelers and more.

It’s also not surprising that we tend to crash them into things or ride them where bigger wheels can easily crash into us. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, nearly 400,000 children 19 and under were seen in hospital emergency rooms for biking, skateboard and skating injuries in 2014, while the Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that 61,000 children aged 15 and under went to the ER for non-motorized scooter injuries the year before.

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To help parents better understand what types of injuries are most commonly sustained from wheeled activities and how to treat and prevent them, we spoke to John Badylak, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Medical City Alliance.

“I see all types of injuries, including fractures from falls off of wheeled toys, ATVs and exercise equipment,” Dr. Badylak said. “The most common fracture I see in adults and children who have a ground level fall is a distal radius fracture (broken wrist). I also see children with supracondylar humerus fractures, which is a fracture of the humerus bone (broken upper arm bone) just above the elbow.”

Preventing injuries.

In addition to wrist and arm breaks, other common injuries include cuts, bruises, strains and sprains. About half of injuries occur to the arms and wrists, while the other half is split between the head and the legs and feet.

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, discusses when to go to the ER with a head injury.

Follow these tips to help prevent injuries:

  • Wear the approved protective gear for your type of activity (helmets, pads, bright clothing, etc.)
  • Wear sturdy, supportive, slip-resistant, close-toed shoes
  • Ride on flat, smooth surfaces away from traffic
  • Don’t ride at night — most motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and non-motorized toy/vehicle riders happen between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Learn the rules of your chosen activity — take a bike safety class or ask a more experienced child for skateboarding tips
  • Learn how to fall safely by landing on fleshy body parts, tucking arms in and rolling
  • Never text or talk on the phone while driving anything with wheels
  • Always ride in view of caregivers (younger children) or with one or more friends (older kids)

How to tell if a bone is broken.

“Unfortunately, fractures and other injuries happen even with precautions,” said Dr. Badylak. “Every situation and every patient is different. It can be very difficult to know whether an ankle is sprained or broken without an exam by a medical professional and an X-ray. But generally speaking, if an injured individual cannot put weight on a leg to walk or cannot move a joint, he or she should go to the ER to be examined. If a child is not using an arm or leg, then that child should definitely be evaluated by a doctor.”

Michelle Underwood, VP of Emergency Services for Medical City Healthcare, explains when to go the ER with a sprain or fracture.

Treating minor injuries at home.

Dr. Badylak recommends treating minor sprains and bruises with ice, elevation and over the counter anti-inflammatories for swelling and pain. If a minor injury doesn’t get better after a couple of days of rest, seeking medical attention at a doctor’s office or urgent care facility would be wise.

If someone in your family suffers an injury while doing a bit of free-wheeling, 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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