Please don’t meet us by accident this summer

BY T.J. MACK, BSN, RN, CEN

Traveling activity, Off road buggy on country road in rainy day

“Courtesy of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System”

Summer arrives is here and with it comes warmer weather. As a consequence, we as a trauma family tend to see more injuries related to personal recreational vehicles – dirt bikes, ATVs, golf carts and personal watercraft.

Many of the injuries we see are the same, and as always, the best treatment is prevention.

When dealing with any vehicle, you have to remember what its original design was intended for. You also need to use any protective equipment that accompanies or was recommended for use when operating the vehicle.

These devices, such as helmets or life jackets, aren’t just so you will look cool. They were designed to save your life.

We rarely hear about situations when a life jacket or a helmet saved someone’s life. What we tend to hear about is a time someone was severely injured or killed due to the lack of their use.

Since we don’t often hear of the wins, people tend to think the danger doesn’t exist. I’m here to tell you it does. Our trauma team treats many blunt force type injuries.

When it comes to personal recreational vehicles, here are a few things to remember:

Dirt Bike Injuries

  • Nationally 88 percent of patients are male.
  • A majority of incidents happen in natural settings.
  • Roughly 20 percent of incidents are motocross-related.

Personal Watercraft Injuries

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Over a quarter of marine vessel accidents involve a personal watercraft.
  • Personal watercraft continue to travel in the same direction when the engine is off.
  • Sharp turns increase your risk of being ejected.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and others.
  • Make sure you have plenty of room when preparing to stop.

ATV Injuries

  • Ride only on designated trails.
  • Wear proper protective equipment.
  • Many incidents are sustained to the upper chest and neck.
  • An estimated 26 percent of injuries occur in children less than 16 years of age.

Golf Cart Injuries

  • Golf carts are made to be driven on a golf course at speeds of 10 miles per hour.
  • Many incidents happen on roadways at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
  • Many individuals are thrown out of the golf cart during a left-hand turn.
  • Kids are more susceptible because they are not able to brace their feet on the floorboard.
  • Many golf carts do not have seat belts.
  • Many golf carts have very little for the passenger to hold onto.
  • Passengers are more commonly injured than drivers, and most fatalities are due to head injuries.

As with all vehicles, read and follow the safety manuals. Never operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and never ride with someone who is operating a vehicle while impaired. Make sure there aren’t more passengers on the vehicle than what is intended by the manufacturer.

Have fun but not at the expense of yours or someone else’s health.

I hope to meet you all one day at one of our many community events. I never enjoy meeting people in one of our trauma bays. Please don’t meet us by accident.

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