Summer months bring more recreational injuries

OKEECHOBEE — With school out and warmer weather not only in Florida but all across the United States, recreational activities like surfing, riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV), biking and more see an uptick in popularity throughout June and July.

But that increase in activity leads to more injuries and hospital visits as well.

According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the summer months bring the largest number of visitors to the emergency rooms for recreational vehicle-related injuries. July 2017 alone had 25,025 injuries involving motorized vehicles and 80,875 sports injuries not involving a motorized vehicle in the U.S.

The cause of those injuries tends to vary by age group as well.

Minibikes and water tubing are the top recreational activities resulting in hospitalization for millennials while mopeds are the top for Baby Boomers and Generation X.

According to data analyzed by the law firm Farah and Farah, June and July saw peaks in injuries from things like golf carts and go-carts, ATVs, and other motorized vehicles, while bicycles and skateboards were likely to blame for accidents in August.

ATVs proved to be the most dangerous of the motorized vehicles, causing 104,961 ER visits in 2017 — that’s three times more than any other recreational vehicle. Motorized scooters and skateboards came in second, causing 32,708 visits. The types of injuries for which people came to the ER vary, but an internal head injury was the most dominant across the board. In seven out of the nine categories of recreational vehicles studied, injuries of this type were the most common.

Bicycles proved to cause the most injuries of the non-motorized recreational vehicles. Bicycles and their accessories caused 457,413 ER visits in 2017, which was four times more than any other non-motorized recreational vehicle such as unpowered skateboards, scooters, roller skates, skis or snowboards.

According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, from 2006-2015 more than 2.2 million children aged 5 to 17 were treated in the ER because of a bicycle-related injury.

An estimated 3.2 million of the patients visiting the ER for recreation injuries in 2017 were children aged 5 to 14. Those injuries included things like broken bones and bruising, but the most commonly injured part of the body was the head — 35,017 internal head injuries, to be exact — at least two times more than injuries to any other body part.

Helmets are the easiest way to lessen the chance of a head injury occurring during a recreational activity.

According to the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota and the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Approximately 75 percent of bicycle-related fatalities could have been prevented by wearing a properly fitted helmet.

While it’s important to have fun and enjoy these summer months, it’s also important to keep you and your loved ones safe.

When participating in recreational activities such as those discussed above, make sure you’re well versed in safety precautions and be aware that an accident can occur at any moment.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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