Ahead of this Independence Day weekend, I had the chance to visit with a local emergency room doctor about some of the injuries she is hoping to not see this 4th of July weekend.
Dr. Auna Leatham is an emergency medicine physician in Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, and the Chief Medical Officer for UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital.
Dr. Leatham says, “I think with any holiday, it's pretty predictable what we see in the emergency department.”
Dr. Leatham expects to see the usual injuries like burns, or worse, trauma injuries from fireworks. “An injury that we see pretty commonly on this holiday are pretty nasty hand injuries. People might be holding a firework and not realize it’s about to go off and ‘boom,’ it explodes in their hand, and they can lose fingers. That’s pretty hard to repair and a debilitating injury so I would recommend leaving the fireworks to the professionals.”
Dr. Leatham adds that no matter what plans you have, there is one activity you can curtail that will increase your safety. “I would like to remind people that if they're going to use alcohol, to use it responsibly. Don't drink and drive because a lot of the trauma that we see surrounds motor vehicle accidents and intoxication. Really, anything that you will be doing on 4th of July - if you keep the drinking to a minimum - that will probably keep you safest.”
In Colorado that also includes using all-terrain vehicles. “ATV accidents are something we see a lot in the summer, especially around the holidays. I would encourage people to use an ATV responsibly and wear protective equipment. You may feel like you don't need a helmet because you don’t think you’re going that fast, but those roll really easily, and we see some nasty injuries from them. This includes children and very young children, so be very careful allowing them to drive ATVs by themselves without any sort of supervision or safety equipment.”
Drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death of children among children ages 1-4 so make sure to be proactive about water safety, says Dr. Leatham. “Boating or swimming or just being around the water, make sure to watch small children and make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket. Just be safe out there. We love to see our patients, and we love to take care of you, but we know you don't want to spend the holiday with us, so stay home with your family and be safe.”
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