12 Top Reasons for Summer ER Visits

July 13, 2015

From the first signs of the days getting longer until school is back in session visits to the ER increase by 15-27%. Factors like increased time outdoors and doing chores that can only be done during the warm weather months increase the likelihood of accidents, burns, and other injuries.

It is well documented that Emergency Room visits spike during the summer months. From the first signs of the days getting longer until school is back in session visits to the ER increase by 15-27%. Factors like increased time outdoors and doing chores that can only be done during the warm weather months increase the likelihood of accidents, burns, and other injuries.

So while summer is a great time to relax and enjoy family activities, it’s important to keep in mind that there are increased risks for events that could send you to the hospital. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to doctors at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the affiliated Children’s Hospital about some of the most common reasons people end up in the ER this time of year.

More than 11,000,000 ER visits are recorded each year related to an injury from a fall. While many folks associate traumatic fall injuries with the elderly, people of all ages are at risk during the summer months. From kids falling off of jungle gyms to adults having accidents on ladders, falls from greater heights are more likely to land you in the ER.

11. Foot Injuries

While running barefoot through the grass is a summer delight, it comes with risks of exposing those tootsies to the great outdoors. Splinters, bee stings, and puncture wounds are more common when feet and legs are free. Also, contact with plants like poison ivy can send kids and adults to the ER in a very itchy state.

10. Gunshot Wounds

Not all summer ER visits are from accidental injuries. The recent trend nationally has been an increase in gun violence during the summer months. Particularly in large cities like Chicago, New York, and Baltimore, rates of homicide and gunshot wounds have spiked during the warmer part of the year. In addition to gunshot injuries occurring from violence, there are also increased numbers of accidental wounds created by BB guns, air rifles, and paintball guns.

9. Amusement Ride-Related Injuries

For so many, a day at an amusement park is a fun way to spend time with the family and get some thrills from the rides. Even with regular safety checks, though, people do get injured on roller coasters and other thrill rides; more than 4,000 people annually report injuries caused by an amusement park ride. The majority of the injuries are relatively minor — bruises, whiplash, cuts – but every once in a while something more calamitous occurs, requiring more intensive care.

8. Bites

Again, increased time outside can mean increased potential for dangerous interactions with animals. New people and situations can make insecure dogs act aggressively and bite. Bites are rarely severe enough for hospitalization, but kids are more likely than adults to be bitten, as well as in sensitive areas like the head and neck. The ASPCA has recommendations for both parents and dog owners to encourage bite prevention.

7. Joint Injuries

Hello, weekend warriors! In addition to making new friends and enjoying the outdoors, your beer-league softball or volleyball schedule could also include a visit to the ER. Summer sports like golf and tennis, as well as rec-league basketball, all can cause strains, sprains, and tears. Just don’t be embarrassed; even the pros get hurt playing sports recreationally.

6. Burns

Sunburn is the obvious trauma that is associated with summer, but there are other burns equally — if not more – dangerous that can land you or a loved one in the hospital. Barbecues are a fantastic family tradition, but problems with propane and little hands around hot grates can definitely be a recipe for disaster. And while we are past the 4th of July, fireworks will remain popular for the rest of the summer season. Both adults and children need to take extra care around these dangerous displays.

5. Trampoline Trauma

Despite years of being told how dangerous they are, trampolines are still very popular in backyards and family recreation centers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that trampolines should never be used, unless by athletes training for a specific sport. More than 1 million people were hospitalized from 2002 to 2011 for injuries occurring on trampolines. Injuries range from sprains and strains from falls to broken bones and spinal damage from somersaults executed incorrectly. There are safer ways to get kids away from screens.

4. ATV, Dirt Bike, and Motorcycle Incidents

ATV rollovers, dirt bike jumps, and motorcycle crashes result in many severe injuries and deaths every year. Kids under 16 shouldn’t be driving ATVs by themselves, according to the recommendation of the AAP. Motorsports enthusiasts of all kinds should always wear helmets to reduce the risk of death and severe injury.

3. Swimming Injuries

Spending time by the water is synonymous with summertime. Everyone, though, needs to be alert and careful around the water. According to the CDC, an average of more than 3,800 people drowned every year between 1999 and 2010. Drowning represents 7% of all deaths from accidental injuries. Children are more likely to drown in pools, while teens and adults are more likely to drown in natural bodies of water. Spinal injuries from diving are also an issue during the summer.

2. Lawn Mower Accidents

The AAP estimates 17,000 kids annually are hurt by lawn mowers. While less common than other accidents, injuries in these instances tend to be much more serious. For anyone tasked with lawn maintenance, keeping the mowers in good working order is the first step to staying out of the ER. There are many gruesome examples of injuries requiring hospitalization, surgery, and amputation from mower-related accidents.

1. Bicycle Injuries

Your bike is your first set of wheels, and it opens up a whole new world when you’re a kid. Bikes can also open up a Pandora’s box of potential injuries, as well. More than 400,000 people were taken to the ER in 2011 from bicycle accidents, with many of those coming during the summer.

"Bicycles are the most dangerous toys that we give our kids," Dr. Barbara Gaines, trauma surgeon, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "That said, I have three kids, and they all have bicycles."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has said that helmets have been shown to prevent 85% of head injuries during bike accidents, but that doesn’t account for broken bones and bruises. For both kids and adults, though, bicycle vs. automobile accidents also increase, which can lead to more severe injuries and longer stays in the hospital.

To read the Post-Gazette’s full story, click here.