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Heat, Water and this Surprising Risk Factor All Contribute to Summertime Safety

July 26, 2018

By Marisa Tranchina

We have all heard about the dangers of being exposed to intense sun for prolonged periods of time without protection, and unfortunate stories of drownings always seem to surface in the summertime. But recent stories about a woman who was impaled in the ankle by an umbrella at a New Jersey beach and a woman who was impaled in the chest by an umbrella in Maryland should encourage people to be more alert and cautious when they plan their outdoor activities. This ‘freak accident’ happens more often than you think.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your summer days from taking a negative turn.

Safely Secure & Operate Your Umbrella: Some simple tips provided by BeachUmbrellaSafety.org include making sure your umbrella is tilted toward the wind, dig your umbrella into the sand by rocking the pole back and forth, rather than using a circular motion and try to anchor your umbrella pole at least 16 inches into the sand. Overall, use extreme caution. If it’s a windy day consider leaving the umbrella at home.

Get Trained in CPR: If your children are around bodies of water on a regular basis, it's important to know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In case of an emergency, CPR can save lives, reduce the severity of injury, and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through Hackensack Meridian Health. Call 1-800-560-9990 for dates, times and locations of classes offered.

Keep a Close Eye on the Kids: “Even though many beaches have lifeguards you should never take your eyes off of your kids,” shares Robert Sweeney, D.O., chairman of emergency medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “In the emergency department we see a variety of issues occur. Children get submerged under water and have near drowning episodes, or suffer injuries when diving into waves that appear to be deeper than they truly are. You just have to be diligent about watching your children.”

About one in five people who die from drowning are 14 years old or younger, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal injuries, often including brain damage. “The numbers are particularly discouraging,” Dr. Sweeney adds “because in many cases, the injuries are preventable.”

If you or a loved one suffers unexpected injuries, know where to go. Visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/CareNow to learn more about your options.

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