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Stay out of the ER this summer with these safety tips for water, sun and storms

“Use common sense,” says LMH emergency physician James Herrin. “Wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, stretch before physical activities, wear eye and ear protection when mowing, wear a helmet for wheeled sports, always wear your seatbelt, don’t dive into water when you don’t know how deep it is, get off the lake as soon as you hear thunder. In other words, don’t be stupid.”

“Use common sense,” says LMH emergency physician James Herrin. “Wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, stretch before physical activities, wear eye and ear protection when mowing, wear a helmet for wheeled sports, always wear your seatbelt, don’t dive into water when you don’t know how deep it is, get off the lake as soon as you hear thunder. In other words, don’t be stupid.”

Summertime and the living is easy. To keep it that way, Lawrence Memorial Hospital urges you to remember some important safety tips to stay out of the emergency room.

“There’s a lot you can do to minimize the risk of summertime activities,” says Dr. James Herrin, board certified emergency physician at LMH.

James Herrin, MD Emergency“Use common sense,” is Herrin’s best advice. “Wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, stretch before physical activities, wear eye and ear protection when mowing, wear a helmet for wheeled sports, always wear your seatbelt, don’t dive into water when you don’t know how deep it is, get off the lake as soon as you hear thunder. In other words, don’t be stupid.”


“The emergency department is your community’s lifeline,” says Herrin. “Use it prudently — for true emergencies rather than convenience.”Herrin says many emergency visits are not for life-threatening illnesses or injuries but for minor medical problems that could be handled more cost effectively in a doctor’s office.

Herrin advises that if you have questions about whether a problem requires emergency treatment, first call your primary care provider, who is best able to give advice and follow-up care based on your personal health history.

Herrin adds, “If you can’t reach your doctor and don’t know, we’d obviously rather see you and help you figure things out.”

Of course, if there’s a possibility that you may be having a stroke, heart attack or other life-threatening emergency, you should never waste time pondering a decision and immediately call 911.

Here are some safety tips from the LMH Emergency Department.

Water

To avoid a tragic accident, follow these water safety tips:

  • Avoid swimming past your ability or in rough water.
  • Never leave children unattended, even if they are experienced swimmers.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before diving.
  • Do not consume alcohol when swimming or boating.
  • Always stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Put a fence around your residential swimming pool.
  • Teach children to avoid playing around open bodies of water.
  • Discourage children from jumping in to help another swimmer. Teach them to throw the victim something that floats or a long object to grasp. Instruct them to call an adult for help.
  • Teach children survival skills such as floating and treading water.

Sun

Those most at risk for heat-related illness are young children and the elderly. Herrin offers these suggestions to protect you from heatstroke, dehydration and sunburn:

  • Watch for signs of heat-related illness. These signs include fainting, dizziness, headache, nausea, flushed appearance, increased heart rate and body temperature of 103 degrees or higher.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a hat and waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • When taking prescription drugs, check with your health care provider before any prolonged exposure to the sun.

Lightning

During electrical storms, heed this advice:

  • Don’t go near the water.
  • Don’t lie down on wet ground.
  • Don’t go near tall or metal objects, such as flagpoles, trees and fences.
  • Don’t watch storms from an open window or door. Avoid the fireplace as it is often a lightning target.
  • People injured by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply first aid if you are qualified to do so and call 911 or send for help immediately.

— Janice Early, MBA, is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at janice.early@lmh.org.

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