Spring is upon us and outdoor activities are abound. But before you take that morning ride on your motorcycle, spend time manicuring your lawn, or let the kids out to play, take a moment to remember safety comes first. E. Shawn Mansour, DO, board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in orthopedic trauma on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital, has these tips for the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman in you this season.
Don’t underestimate the power of your garden power tools. A fresh cut lawn is a staple of springtime. Many of us achieve a pristine looking lawn with the many power tools available today like self-propelled lawnmowers and electric-powered hedge trimmers. Although convenient and easy to use, these powerful tools are also dangerous. “Many people suffer deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, and broken bones as a result of improper use of lawnmowers and other gardening tools,” explains Dr. Mansour.
In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission over 200,000 people – including approximately 16,000 children - were treated in a medical facility just for lawnmower-related injuries in 2007. “Lawnmower injuries can often result in partial or complete amputation of the affected area so it is incredibly important to take caution,” adds Dr. Mansour. Here are a few recommendations:
- Never let children operate lawnmowers and keep children out of the yard while the lawn is being mowed.
- No one other than the operator, regardless of age, should be allowed on a riding mower.
- Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing lawnmower equipment.
- Do not tamper with safety release switches.
- Keep your lawnmower in good working shape.
- Remove stones, toys, and any other objects or obstacles from the lawn before you start mowing.
- Protect yourself with gloves, goggles, boots, and long pants when you use lawnmowers.
- Read the instruction manual before using or repairing the equipment.
- Use caution when mowing hills, slopes, and uneven surfaces.
- Keep hands and feet away from the machinery’s moving parts.
- Do not leave the mower unattended while it is running. If you must walk away, shut off the engine.
Trampolines are not always fun and games. Bouncing and jumping on a trampoline can be fun for the whole family. But before you let your child on to enjoy the “spring” of this play equipment, consider the condition and supervision of the play area.
“Injuries from the use of trampolines can be significant if proper care and supervision are not in place,” says Dr. Mansour. “Common injuries include sprains and fractures, which usually result from a fall on the trampoline. Severe injuries can also occur. Although uncommon, a traumatic injury could even result in paralysis.” Follow these suggestions to help provide a safer play environment:
- Trampolines should not be used unsupervised; competent adult supervision is needed for children at all times.
- Only one participant should use a trampoline at any time. Multiple people could increase the risk of injury through collisions.
- Someone should be present and attentive to spot the jumpers if they need assistance or lose their footing.
- The trampoline should be placed on a level, flat ground surface.
- Make sure the support bars, strings, and landing surfaces have adequate protective padding.
- Check the equipment regularly for any safety conditions.
- Trampolines are not recommended for children under the age of 6 years old.
- Remove trampoline ladders after use to prevent unsupervised access.
Don’t worry about how you look; safety is the # 1 game on the road. “Car and motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of multiple traumatic injuries for men and women of all ages. Be a defensive driver and know that your safety and the safety of those around you is in your hands,” says Dr. Mansour.
While it may not be “cool” to wear a motorcycle helmet or to be the one driving the speed limit on the highway, observing safety recommendations could mean the difference between life and death or a long-term struggle with rehabilitation and healing. “Even a low speed car accident could result in broken bones, sprains, and bruising that could take time to heal,” adds Dr. Mansour. Here are a few safety tips for the road:
· Follow at a safe distance. A general rule of thumb is to allow at least two full seconds between your car and the one ahead.
· Respect the yellow. Even if there isn’t a red light camera around, you should clear the intersection before the signal turns red.
· Avoid distractions like changing radio stations, loading CDs into the stereo, making phone calls, or texting while driving. Keep your focus on the task at hand – driving!
· Don’t drive when you are tired. Some medications can cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous so plan ahead for a safe trip on the road.
· Always use caution when changing lanes or merging onto a highway.
· Wear safety belts properly while in the vehicle and make sure children are fastened in approved seating for their age and size.
· If operating a motorcycle or other motor vehicle such as an ATV, wear a helmet and protective clothing.
If an accident occurs in the home or in the great outdoors, call 9-1-1 and seek medical treatment immediately. The Emergency Department at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital is conveniently located in the community and is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Our team of emergency medicine physicians, surgeons, physician specialists, registered nurses, in-house paramedics, and ancillary staff are dedicated to getting you and your family back to good health.