Tips for Avoiding the Emergency Department

Summer is in full swing, and as you might guess, temperatures in Indiana tend to climb the highest during the month of July. Don’t let increased temperatures increase your risk for a variety of incidents that could land you or a loved one in the emergency department.

“The month of July is a fun one, filled with fireworks, barbeques and poolside activities,” Katy Thacker says, clinical manager and RN in the emergency department at IU Health West Hospital. “It also means you should be extra careful to ensure your health and safety, considering dangers that you might not think about any other time of the year.”

In 2017, at least eight people died and about 12,900 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the experts,” Thacker says. “Search for local firework shows near you and watch a public firework display from a distance conducted by professionals, rather than purchasing and lighting fireworks yourself.”

The National Safety Council offers the same advice, adding that if you choose to purchase and use fireworks, you should never use fireworks while impaired, never allow children to handle fireworks, and never attempt to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. You should always wear protective eyewear, soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding, and keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.

Other summertime medical emergencies to avoid include dehydration and skin poisoning.

“Take proactive steps against dehydration and skin poisoning to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency department,” Thacker says. “To stay hydrated, a good rule of thumb is to drink at least 10 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but some people may need more, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the sun. To avoid sunburn and sun poisoning, limit your time in the sun during the middle of the day, wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and reapply as needed. Look for sunscreen that says ‘broad-spectrum,’ which means it protects against UVA and UVB sun rays.”

If you are unsure if you need medical attention, always call your doctor to be safe. Remember to call 9-1-1 if you need immediate medical care. Do not drive yourself or a loved one to the hospital.