When thinking of falls, many of us tend to think of slipping or falling on the ice or snow. Well, that is not entirely true. Last year, the University of Utah Health Trauma Services treated more than 300 patients that fell at home during the months of May through September. Many of the documented falls occurred while doing some form of activity such as walking or hiking.
The following are a few simple tips to follow, so people of all ages can remain safe and uninjured while experiencing the wonderfully warm weather of summer.
1. Don’t Get Overheated.
Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are leading causes of summer falls, and seniors are at an increased risk. Both conditions can lead to dizziness and disorientation, and falls often follow. Prevent overheating by drinking enough water and planning outdoor activities in the morning or evening hours.
2. The Weather Isn’t all Sunshine.
Spring and summer bring a lot of rain and mud, which can lead to slippery surfaces. Thunderstorms can also scatter your yard with branches that become tripping hazards. Remain inside during severe weather and pick up any items in your yard as soon as possible to prevent falls.
3. You’re More Likely to Be Active Outside.
You’re probably mostly familiar with the terrain inside your home. Once you’re outdoors, though, all bets are off. When the weather is nice, you’re going to spend more time outdoors. Pay attention to incline changes, watch for holes, and beware of tripping hazards to reduce your risk of falling.
4. More Water-Related Activities Means More Slipping Hazards.
Pay more attention to where you’re stepping in the summer, in case water has been tracked indoors. A tile floor at the gym can become a fall hazard when children track water inside from the pool. With rain, you may also find puddles inside your favorite restaurant or grocery store.
5. Wearing the Wrong Shoes.
Winter requires warm boots, many of which feature slip-resistant soles. In summer, backless sandals, flip-flops, and shoes with leather soles all come into fashion. These shoes can increase your fall risk. Instead, stick to running shoes or other rubber-soled shoes that offer support and better traction.
Summer brings its own safety hazards, and it pays to be aware of them. Being proactive can save you a lot of pain and suffering. Fall prevention efforts and other summer safety measures are critical for staying safe and healthy while the weather is warm.
Zach Robinson , MPA, EMT-P
Zach Robinson is the trauma outreach/injury prevention coordinator for University of Utah Health.