Anything can happen on the lake from head injuries to sunburn to dehydration, warn experts

By Banner Health

For many of us, a day at the lake means a great chance to get some sun, have some fun and play in the water.

But Banner Health safety experts warn that a day at the lake can also mean a trip to the Emergency departments for serious injuries such as drowning and head trauma to more minor but still painful conditions such as sunburns and swimmer’s itch.

“We can see head injuries because people are out there diving off of a cliff and probably shouldn’t be and then again we can see broken arms by doing different things on the lake,’’ says Tracey Fejt (pronounced “fate’’), trauma injury prevention coordinator for Banner Desert Medical Center and Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

“But the worst thing that we can see is the drowning and that is preventable and so we really need to have people in life jackets.’’

Fejt says that many of the injuries that cause people to go to Emergency departments after being at a lake involve alcohol.

“We can see boat crashes. They can be out there on jet skis and crash into a boat,’’ she says. “Remember, you are operating a vehicle and you should be operating that vehicle sober.’’

It is always essential for people on the water to wear their life jackets buckled, she emphasizes.

“If there is some kind of collision or you go under and hit your head on a rock that life jacket is going to bring you back up and is going to help you to float so you are going to be floating face up and then it gives them time to rescue you.

“If you jump in and never resurface, trying to find you in our murky water is extremely hard so it is just going to give you a better chance of survival by having that life jacket on.’’

Fejt gives these other tips on how to stay safe at the lake:

  • Even good swimmers can drown: “If you exert yourself further than you can go, and you can’t get yourself back, you can drown. Just because you know how to swim, it doesn’t make you drown proof,’’ says Fejt.
  • Scout it out: Always walk into the water feet first so you know how deep that water is.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide: An odorless gas that builds up in a boat’s engine compartment. If people swim at the back of the boat and those gasses are present, swimmers can easily pass out.
  • Extreme heat: “If you are in the water, you are not thinking about drinking. But you are not having that water absorbed into you. You literally have to put water into you.’’
  • Quick to burn: Remember with our burn index, you can burn in 10 minutes, so you want to apply sunblock every two hours. You want to apply SPF 30 or higher. People forget the tops of their ears, backs of their legs, tops of their feet.

“Also, if you are laying on an inner tube floating, and you are looking down, the bottoms of your feet are up, you can get burns on the bottom of your feet.’’

About Banner Health

Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.

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