Texas. The Lone Star State. Everything here is bigger…even the injuries.
Summertime is the season that many Texans look forward to the most—from spending all day at the beach to hosting barbecues around the campfire under the stars. Unfortunately, with the increase in outdoor activities comes a variety of potential injuries, illnesses and hazards that Texans need to be aware of. Our summer safety guide provides simple tips on how to keep your family safe for every adventure this summer.
Burn, Baby Burn!
Texas may be known for its barbecue, but this favorite gourmet experience can come with a risk. Feeding an open flame dripping grease isn’t a good idea in the first place, but that juicy steak can cause big problems if you leave it on the grill unsupervised for more than a few minutes.
Burns from barbecue accidents are common in the emergency room during the summer. In fact, 16,000 people went to the ER in 2014 because of a grilling-related injury, and approximately 9,000 home fires each year are caused by barbecue accidents.
Don’t deny yourself a delicious steak or a homemade hamburger, but be cautious of how much gas or charcoal you’re using. And no matter what you’re cooking up this summer, always keep an eye on the flame. Some basic grilling safety rules include:
• Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house
• Clean your grill regularly
• Check for gas leaks
• Keep a spray bottle of water handy
• Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill
On the Rocks
Central Texas is known for its rivers, lakes and waterfalls. As fun as a day out on the Guadalupe River or a trip to Pedernales Falls sounds, these kinds of water activities pose serious risks. In 2007, 43% of all drowning incidents resulted in natural water settings. Rivers and waterfalls especially have some sharp boulders that frame the rapids and couch themselves at the bottom of the falls. High water speeds are something else to watch out for because they can easily push you underwater. Cliff-jumping, diving off waterfalls or even straying too far from your tube can result in injuries like gashes and scrapes, broken bones or even drowning.
If you’re going out on a trip to a water spot, know ahead of time what equipment you need and the areas you should steer clear of. Popular spots like Jacob’s Well in Wimberley are summer favorites among thrill-seekers because of high cliffs to jump off, but along with the adrenaline-pumping fun comes a few precautions. Know the dangers associated with your destination by checking the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to determine water levels, river safety and more.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
While a day at the lake may sound like an appropriate way to spend your summer days, boating accidents resulted in over 2,500 injuries last year alone, and over 600 deaths. Factors like large bodies of water, populated areas and sharp motors create high levels of risk.
The most important rule is to be conscious of the boats around you. If you’re skiing, know the rules for the spots on the lake that are designated for that activity. Bringing skiers into areas not specifically set aside for water skiing poses high risks from other boaters who might not be able to see anyone in the water and don’t know to watch out for them. If you’re concerned about the boating activity going on near you, it’s best to stay out of the water until you’re comfortable with the activity levels of the area you’re swimming or playing in.
Boat captains, make sure you know where high speeds are allowed and be aware of the places where you should slow down or anchor. Motors are sharp and dangerous objects, and accelerating too quickly in areas where people are in the water can cause major injuries like large gashes, broken bones, amputated limbs and even death. Remember that most lakes are ultimately intended for swimmers — meaning that boats should proceed with caution.
I Caught One, Mom!
Whether deep-sea fishing off the coast of Corpus Christi or throwing a line into the Sabine, fishing is a popular Texan activity. Lounging in a folding chair on the shoreline and a beverage in hand is a great way to relax in the summer, but it’s important to have safety in mind when enjoying a day of fishing.
For example, think of the sharp hook attached to your lure. When you cast your line, be aware of your surroundings and bystanders in the area. The velocity associated with throwing the lure back in order to gain forward momentum can turn into some pretty serious hook impalements if someone’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If there are fishermen around you, the rules are simple: Watch for lines and don’t get caught near one. Fishing accounts for one in five sports-related eye injuries, so keep your sunglasses and hat on when you’re out at the lake.
I Shouldn’t Have Eaten That…
Festivals like the Fredericksburg Crawfish Festival and Rockport Festival of Wine and Food are popular summer festivals. While there’s a lot of excitement in trying new and unconventional delicacies, eating food from questionable trucks or restaurants might not feel too good later that night.
Tacos, corn dogs and nachos are just a few foods to be cautious of, because on a particularly hot day the meat might be poor quality or spoiled. Food poisoning is a painful and unpleasant experience and can result in ER visits due to dehydration. Be careful of what you feed your body this summer by being conscious of the reputations of the trucks you frequent. If you do get food poisoning, try to drink plenty of fluids, but pace yourself. If you can’t keep down anything for more than 4-5 hours, including clear liquids, it’s time to see a doctor.
Beat the Heat
To Texans, summertime means being outdoors in the beautiful sunshine, but it also means prolonged exposure to the heat and humidity. Being in the sun for too long can result in painful sunburns, which also elevate your risk of skin cancer. Too much time outdoors can also cause dehydration, and the combination of sun exposure with too little water can turn into varying levels of heat illness, which accounted for around 160 ER visits from March-July 2015 in Houston alone.
Know your limits in the sun and heat: apply sunscreen every 30 minutes and drink enough water to stay fully hydrated. Experts recommend calculating half of your body weight and using that number as a guideline for how many ounces you should drink per day. For instance, someone who weighs around 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of water in order to stay fully hydrated. Various accessories like hats and sunglasses will help to relieve your skin from heat exposure and stay in the sun for longer without repercussions.
For many people, summer is the best time of year. It’s the time to be with your family, friends and neighbors and enjoy the company of each other in the longer, warmer days. By implementing a few safety habits from our summer safety guide into your plans, you can spend more time outdoors and less time in the ER.