ER doctor offers tips on how to stay out of the hospital this summer

With the arrival of the summer season, one emergency physician in Alberta is offering tips on how to stay in the sun and out of the hospital.

Dr. Chuck Wurster offered his summer safety tips in a thread posted to Twitter on Monday.

While some of his advice seemed jokingly tailored to specific patients – “If your wife says there is a live bug in her ear, believe her unless you like sleeping on the couch” – Wurster also offered general suggestions on how to avoid contracting COVID-19 and how to keep yourself from getting hurt while participating in summer activities.

Here are some of his top tips for staying out of the emergency room this summer.

AVOIDING INJURIES

Wurster recommends wearing a helmet while riding a bike, scooter, or horse, and suggests avoiding trampolines entirely. According to Alberta Health Services, 1,919 Alberta children 14 years old or younger sustained trampoline-related injuries in 2015 that were severe enough to require a trip to the ER.

The ER physician also tweeted that Canadians should never drink and drive a car or motorcycle, adding that it is also not safe to operate machinery, such as a chainsaw, while under the influence. Wurster also said that Canadians should avoid using fireworks after drinking alcohol.

With temperatures heating up, Wurster reiterated the importance of staying safe at the pool.

“Don’t jump into a pool if you don’t know how deep it is, especially head first,” he wrote in a tweet.

He also recommended that people avoid dangerous trends or challenges they find on social media, such as the “cinnamon challenge” in which people were encouraged to swallow a spoonful of the spice, which landed some teens in hospital with pneumonia or needing ventilator support when their lungs collapsed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Severe cuts are another injury Wurster says he sees often in the ER. To avoid cuts while using a box knife, the doctor recommends cutting away from your body. He also recommended a YouTube video by a professional chef to learn how to safely remove a pit from an avocado, saying he has seen “so many misadventures” from patients who stabbed down toward the palm of their hand.

For those taking on projects around the home or yard this summer, Wurster has some tips for tool safety as well.

“When using a nail gun please don’t keep your hand on the trigger if you aren’t paying attention,” he wrote. “I have seen more people nail themselves to things than I can remember.”

Wurster also says ladder-related injuries often appear in his ER. He says when climbing a ladder, someone should always be holding the base in order to keep the climber safe, and older people should avoid using ladders completely.

When it comes to yard work, Wurster says Canadians should take a more hands-off approach.

“We use our hands to interact with the world but the world can bite back (literally),” he wrote. “Don’t use your hands to clear lawnmower or snowblower blades. You may end up short some digits.”

The same goes for your toes, he says.

“Our feet also are just as vulnerable as our hands, and more sensitive because of more nerves,” Wurster wrote. “Wear the correct footwear for the job. No sandals for cutting the grass, boots for shovelling the driveway, steel toes at work, and high heels are not good for climbing a mountain.”

For those who have tickets to concerts this summer, Wurster recommends thinking ahead to protect your hearing.

“Our ears are helpful because then you can listen to Van Halen (I wanted to be Eddie as a teen),” he wrote. “If you go to a concert as loud as Van Halen used to have, wear ear plugs. If you are in rock band this should be a no-brainer.”

He also recommended ear protection if you work in a noisy environment.

“Protect yourself out there,” he wrote. “Life is better with all of your parts intact.”

AVOIDING COVID-19

On top of tips to avoid injury, Wurster offered some advice on how to avoid getting COVID-19 and why it’s important to do so.

“Please remember that COVID is still here despite what our ‘leaders’ say,” he wrote. “It’s gonna get bad with [Omicron subvariant] BA4/5 coming, and it’s an infection you and your kids should avoid. It can make you very sick, sometimes for months.”

To avoid contracting the virus, Wurster says Canadians should take advantage of the warmer weather and spend time outside.

“ANY indoor public place is high risk for getting COVID especially as Omicron BA4/5 sub-variants start to arrive this summer,” he wrote.

Wurster recommends getting vaccinated, including boosters, and wearing masks any time you’re in public and indoors.

“Before you leave for school, work, or some errands, find that mask (a good N95 if you have it), bring it and wear it indoors,” he wrote. “As dangerous as all the silly things on this list are, COVID is bad too.” 

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