As the memory of ice and snow fade, people are understandably excited to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. While some head to spend a day at the Jersey Shore, others may set out on a road trip to Poconos or to a local amusement park. Regardless of your destination, your goal is to shake-off the winter blues and enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, the types of outdoor activities that summer brings can conceal serious risks that, if ignored, could lead to traumatic head injuries, burns, serious bodily injury or even death. Before you set out on a summer excursion, be sure to think about your planned activities to minimize the risks that you and your family face.
So is summer inherently more dangerous? It would appear so. At least according to a 2001 study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which found that there were approximately 800,000 more injuries that required a hospital visit during the summer months of June, July, and August than during the months of January, February, and March.
Below I outline some of the startling dangers surrounding popular summer activities.
Hidden Dangers on the Open Road?
The summer road trip is a defining characteristic of the American summer vacation. According to the AAA, in 2013, approximately two-thirds of American adults planned to take a road trip between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nearly thirty-percent of those planning to travel intended to take 3 or more trips during the summer. Whether you expect to take the family car, ride your motorcycle or take another form of transportation, the open road brings its own set of risks and dangers.
Motorcyclists typically face increased dangers when compared to the occupants of a car, truck or bus. In 2008, the rate of motorcyclist deaths hit an all-time high in the United States. The smaller size of the motorcycle makes it less visible to other motorists and encourage other risky behavior. In fact, collisions are most common with vehicles making a left-hand turn as the driver may not see the profile of the motorcycle until it is too late. Further, motorcyclists who pass cars while in the same lane or lane split greatly increase their risk of traumatic injury. Common motorcycle accident injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck injury
- Back injury
- Knee damage
- Ankle damage
- Broken bones
- Fractured bones
Swimming and Watersports Bring Injury Risks
When people think of aquatic activities like swimming, wakeboarding, jet skiing, surfing or boogie boarding, their main injury concern is drowning – and for good reason. According to the CDC, there were nearly 10,000 fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents with children under age four being the most at risk. However, the risk of accidental drowning can be minimized by:
- Abstaining from alcohol use prior to participating in a watersport.
- Ensuring that adequate fencing or safeguards are installed.
- Verifying that appropriate supervision is provided.
- Wearing all required safety equipment including a life vest.
- Ensuring that all participants can perform survival swimming.
While drowning is certainly a major concern, its importance should not overshadow other serious risks. Diving into shallow water can result in the diver striking his or her head against the bottom of the pool. Additionally horseplay, such as “chicken fights”, can cause a swimmer to strike their head and lose consciousness or suffer other skeletal or muscular injury. Regardless of your summer water activity, adequate safety precautions should be taken as brain, neck or spinal injury can occur.
Injury Risks at Amusement Parks and Boardwalks
The amusement park, like those at Dorney Park and Six Flags Great Adventure, along with the boardwalk has been a source of summer entertainment and fun for generations of Americans. Whether your favorite ride is the roller coaster, the tilt-a-whirl, the Scrambler, or the Ferris wheel, each of these amusements can cause serious injury if they are improperly operated, designed, or constructed. As competition for the consumer’s vacation dollar heats up, parks are under pressure to offer bigger thrills. For example, for the summer of 2014 the infamous Action Park, which closed in 1996 due to safety concerns including a pair of drownings, will be re-opening.
Youth Sports and Serious Brain Injuries
The warmer weather first brings baseball season, but soon enough, practice for youth and high school football, soccer, and cross-country running will begin. Each of these sports brings their own unique risks, but share the common characteristic that all involve some level of injury risk. In particular, the repeated blows to the head typically suffered by football and soccer players are of special concern due to their propensity to cause traumatic brain injury.
To minimize this risk, all coaches should be instructed and trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion or other head injury. Signs and symptoms can include:
- Balance problems
- Vision problems
- Stunned or dazed appearance
- Inability to recall the injury
- Light sensitivity
- Noise sensitivity
- Loss of consciousness
If these symptoms and signs are observed after a brain injury, the athlete should be removed from play and evaluated by a medical professional before they are permitted to return to physical activity.
When Summer Barbecues Go Wrong
Cooking hamburgers and hotdogs at a weekend BBQ is a quintessentially American summer activity. It might not be thought about as a danger, but there is the potential for injuries caused by grills that use propane tanks. Cooking beef, pork or other meats on the grill often results in grease flare-ups. If those flare-ups are not handled properly, a full-fledged grease fire can develop. Further, if one uses a propane tank for their grill, there is the potential for an explosion. Aside from serious burns an explosion can impair hearing and vision, cause the loss of a limb or necessitate amputation.
Contact Us Today if You Have Suffered a Serious Injury
If for some reason you suffer an unfortunate injury related to outdoor activity, do not delay in seeking legal representation. The statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania is two years. Your failure to take timely action can negatively affect your our claim.
The attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have provided legal counsel to victims of traumatic brain injury, wrongful death and other serious injuries for three decades. If you think that you may have sustained a serious injury due to a summer recreational activity, please contact us for a free consultation by calling (215) 246-9000 or by using the contact form above.