Even fun activities and excursions can become dangerous if people are not aware and prepared, so Intermountain Health experts give seven tips to stay safe.
Labor Day is here and is often seen as the end of summer and the last chance to get outside and enjoy the outdoors before cooler temperatures arrive. It’s also one of the holidays that sees more injuries and trips to the emergency department.
The three-day weekend is typically packed with hiking, boating, biking, backyard barbecue grilling, swimming, and off-roading. However, even fun activities and excursions can become dangerous if people are not aware and prepared.
That’s why Intermountain Health experts are reminding everyone to take seven steps this weekend to ensure they have a safe and injury-free Labor Day holiday.
- Safely Enjoy the Outdoors – Be Prepared
People headed to the backcountry, with limited access to phone service and emergency help need to be prepared.
“Go with a group of people and know everyone’s level of ability – including your own,“ said Jeffrey Walker, MD, trauma surgeon at Intermountain Health McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. “Falls leading to broken bones and lacerations are some of the most common accidents hikers face when they over-extend themselves, which may land them in our emergency department.”
Dr. Walker is a traumatologist at Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital specializing in treating the most severe injuries. He recommends the following:
- Check the weather before leaving, so you can bring the appropriate clothing and equipment.
- Share your travel plans and locations with a family member
- Pack a first aid kit
- Pack plenty of water
- Drive Safely
Labor Day historically marks the end of what the US Centers for Disease Control refers to as, “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” During the 100 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the number of fatal car crashes nearly doubles.
The National Safety Council estimates there will be nearly 400 traffic-related fatalities with 42,300 people seeking medical care for accidents this holiday weekend. Utah typically averages three auto related fatalities during the Labor Day weekend.
“Drivers need to make sure they are well rested, not distracted, divide driving duties, and watch for motorcyclists,” said Dr. Walker.
- Wear a Seatbelt
The Utah Department of Transportation reports there were 79 unrestrained fatalities and 159 unrestrained serious injuries on Utah roads in 2022.
Every 10 minutes there is a crash on Utah roads and every 36 hours there is a death as a result of a motor vehicle crash. The most common contributing factor to roadway fatalities is a failure to buckle up. In Utah, it’s the law.
“Wearing a seatbelt is proven to save lives,” said Dr. Walker. “In fact, 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries. No one wants to become a statistic. You can keep you and your loved ones safe by buckling up.”
- Bike Safely – Wear a Helmet
More kids on bicycles and more cars on the road during the holiday weekend makes for a deadly combination.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, each year more than 3.5 million children 14 and under in the U.S. are treated for injuries from bicycle, roller blade, skateboarding, and other sports related activities.
Keep your children safe by requiring everyone wear a helmet – and one that properly fits. Also, make sure the children are wearing bright-colored clothing, especially if they’re riding at dusk, and their bikes have the appropriate lights and reflectors.
On high-traffic days, such as Labor Day weekend, it’s also safest to keep kids off the highly-traffic roads.
- Off-Road Safely – Wear Safety Equipment
A child’s risk of being hospitalized from riding an off-highway vehicle is 1,000 times greater than riding in a car.
In Utah, 22 youth died in ATV-related crashes between 1999 and 2011, and only 58 percent of Utahns report wearing a helmet while riding an ATV.
Safety gear should include a protective helmet with a faceguard and goggles.
Additionally, every rider under the age of 16 should be certified to operate an ATV under the law and should keep within his or her skill level, ride the right-sized vehicle and only with the recommended number of riders for the ATV.
- Enjoy the Sun Safely
It may be the end of summer, but the sun is still hot in many parts of the state. Remember to apply sunscreen before hitting the outdoors – and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day.
Intermountain cancer experts note sunscreen or sunblock isn’t just for going to the pool or hiking outdoors but anytime you’re out in the sun. Doctors say sun damage now can lead to serious problems down the road.
“People don’t realize that even though you may heal from a sunburn and be fine a week later it can lead to melanoma and other skin cancers years later,” said Bryce Desmond, DO, dermatologist at Intermountain Health. “That’s why it’s vital to make protective measures a part of your daily routine.”
Also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
“If you’re thirsty at all it’s time to start drinking,” said Dr. Walker. “If you’ll be out working or exercising for more than two hours, you’ll also need some electrolytes, either from a liquid that contains electrolytes, such as Gatorade, or from salty snacks.”
- Be Responsible Around Water
Drowning is the second leading cause of death among Utah children under the age of 15 and unfortunately tragedies can happen in the blink of an eye.
Experts at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital provide these general water safety tips which include:
- Have children wear a life jacket whenever near water
- Never take your eyes off of children in the water – appoint a “water watcher”
- While supervising, stay alert and avoid distractions
- Keep a telephone nearby in case of emergency
- Teach children to swim, but remember, there is no substitute for supervision
Accidents Happen – We are Here for You
Accidents are never planned. If you do happen to have a medical emergency, you should first call 9-1-1, go to the emergency department and do not delay treatment.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.