Labor Day: Tips to stay out of the ER

Biking and driving are two risky activities on Labor Day

Metro Service
Labor Day traditionally is the number one holiday for greatest number of trips to the emergency room.

■ Darria Long Gillespie / MD/contributed

It’s Labor Day! One last hurrah of a holiday before autumn, last chance to wear white (or so grandmother says) and—the number one holiday for the greatest number of injuries and trips to the emergency room—especially for children.
Follow these tips for a safe holiday weekend:

Biking
More kids on bicycles over the last warm-weather holiday of the year plus more cars on the road equals a dangerous set-up for bicycle injuries.
Keep your children safe by always requiring that they wear helmets. In the ER I have truly seen helmets save lives. As kids grow so quickly, it can be tough to make sure the helmet continues to fit well. Every summer, recheck the helmet fit and replace if needed. A poorly fitting helmet will not protect a child’s growing brain in case of an accident.
If there’s any chance that kids will be riding bikes when it’s dusk or even late afternoon, make sure they wear bright-colored clothing and have appropriate lights and reflectors on their bikes.
On the high-traffic days such as Labor Day, it’s safest to keep kids from biking on driving roads altogether.

Driving
Labor Day is one of the highest traffic weekends of the year and one of the deadliest ones as well—the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that there will be nearly 400 traffic-related fatalities, with 42,300 people seeking medical care for accidents.
Buckle up: the NSC also estimates that 144 lives may be saved this weekend because people wore their seat belts.
Create a “distraction-free zone” with no cell phones or other technology to grab the driver’s attention when there are so many cars on the road.
Allow plenty of extra travel time to account for traffic, weather — and decrease the impulse to speed.
If your car develops a problem (e.g. a flat tire) — DO NOT just pull over on the side of a busy highway–I have treated many people in the ER that were hit doing just this. Pull over in a rest area if you can, and if you must be on the side of the road, pull off the road entirely (into the grass, not just on the shoulder) and use flares.
With a little precaution, you can have a safe and happy Labor Day. Here’s hoping for a great one for you and your family!


Darria Long Gillespie, MD MBA, FACEP, is Sharecare’s Senior Vice President of Clinical Strategy, an Emergency Department physician in Atlanta, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine and national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. She is also the author of the upcoming book, “Mom Hacks.” This article originally appeared on the www.Sharecare.com website.

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