Summertime emergencies are no fun

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Admit it, I look cool

Hey, friends, this is Part 2 of 2 posts about emergencies.  You may wish to check out the first post, “An insider’s view of the emergency department” which gives a look at a major Level I trauma center.   This post will cover just a few tips for staying safe this summer.






For no reasons other than to get you in the summertime mood and because you never really need a reason to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, you may want to listen to this tidbit of musical perfection:

Holy cow. Magical.  Check out her voice at 1:00 – 1:05.

Meet Dr. Simpson (again)

Dr. Nick Simpson joined me on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast last week to talk about summertime injuries.  Here is an index to the podcast, which you can listen to right here and fast forward to the “time stamp” to listen to each particular topic:

(Healthy Matters show #444, July 9, 2017)

Podcast index

  • Training to be a paramedic (14:40)
  • What you can do at your home to help emergency responders (23:30)
  • Bike and motorcycle safety (24:40)
  • Bugs and mosquito bites (27:20)
  • Heat-related injuries (31:00)

I recommend simply listening to the podcast!  But if you prefer to read the text, here are some short blurbs about what we talked about on the podcast.

What can you do at home to help emergency responders?

Two people texted related questions to the show on Sunday asking about steps they could take to assist emergency responders should the need arise for them to come to their house.

Dr. Simpson had some good tips for this.  Among them:

  • Have your house well-marked so the paramedics can see your house number and not waste time getting lost.
  • Have your house accessible.  If possible, have the door unlocked, or have someone with you to answer the door and let them in.  They can’t help you if they can’t get in!
  • If you can have a list of your medications, or the medications themselves, ready for the emergency help, that is really good.

It is understandable that you may not be able to do these things – it is an emergency after all which doesn’t lend itself well to preparing for visitors – but if you can do these things it can help you get the care you need.

Wear your helmet!

I’m just not playing around here.  Wearing a helmet when biking or riding a motorcycle should be automatic.  Just do it.  Dr. Simpson points out that the biggest preventable injury is from people not wearing helmet when riding bikes and motorcycles.

If you need reasons for this, here are some from the podcast:

  • Minor things become major problems.  Minor or moderate falls may not be a big deal, but if you are not wearing a helmet and you crack your head on the pavement, you may have a significant concussion or worse.
  • For motorcycles it is especially important.  Dr. Simpson reports seeing motorcycle accidents in which the person was wearing a helmet, perhaps “broke some bones” but did OK.  He’s also seen the same type of motorcycle accidents where there were “devastating injuries” when the rider did not wear a helmet.
  • One caller to the show noted that motorcycle riders without helmets are often considered by emergency doctors and nurses simply to be potential organ donors.  Think about that.

When an emergency doctors says “I wish more kids and adults wore their helmet” it is because he has seen the worst.  I’d listen to his advice.

Minnesota’s state bird:  mosquitoes

For most of us, mosquito bites are a nuisance (at least those of us not living in parts of the world where malaria is a problem which is something more than a nuisance!).  For those folks, we talked about simply taking a Benadryl (brand name for generic diphenhydramine) for the itching.  You can use it topically or in a pill form.  But for some with allergic reactions, bug bites or bee stings can lead to a severe allergic reaction – a condition we call anaphylaxis – which requires emergency care.  This is usually done with a medication called epinephrine.  If you have bad allergies to bug bites and stings, you should carry epinephrine with you when you are outside.  Get one from your doctor or allergist.  Like this guy.

Heat injuries

Everyone is at risk for heat-related injuries, including:

  • Athletes, both the professional and elites and the weekend warriors
  • People who work outside
  • Elderly folks
  • Infants and children
  • Your average backyard gardener

On the podcast Dr. Simpson talks about the continuum of heat-injuries.  It can range from a bit of dehydration to heat exhaustion to heat stroke and even death.

Symptoms of heat injury include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and passing out
  • Acting confused or agitated
  • Seizure
  • Coma

The idea is to prevent problems before they occur rather than treat heat stroke after symptoms set in.  Do this by moderating your activity in the heat, stay out of the direct sun, drink plenty of water, and if symptoms occur, get cooled immediately by getting out of the heat, applying ice to the body, misting with cool water, and getting professional help.  It only takes a few minutes of a body temp > 104 to lead to serious problems and even death.

And as I pointed out on the show . . . it if is hot outside, go check on your neighbors and friends and family, particularly if they are elderly or very young kids.

For really solid info about heat-related problems, I recommend this site from the CDC.

There are lots more summer injuries to talk about, but those are some highlights from this month’s show.   That’s it for my two-part summer emergencies series.  Thanks for stopping by!

Have a listen to the podcast of this topic or any previous topic by clicking here:

And subscribe by e-mail if you wish!

Happy Summer!

David     @DrDavidHilden  #healthymatters

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