Summertime . . . and the Accidents Happen
by David Olan
I think every adult, regardless of age, still feels the excitement that the coming of summer ignited in their heart when they were a child and the bell rang on that last day of school of the year. It’s a time when rules are relaxed and we’re pulled away from our computers and offices for trips, social events, and to swim, bike, boat, paddle, hike, surf, and camp.
Masked behind the idyllic days of summer is the higher risk of accidents. Like the proverbial snake in the garden, accidents hide until they strike, making you either the victim or the perpetrator. Neither position is a good one. Both can cost you dearly.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
During the summer there are more cars, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, and children on the roads.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Recording System reports that in California there are nearly twice as many car accident deaths during the summer months than the rest of the year combined.
There also are more teen drivers out on the road during the summer, making the 101 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day the deadliest for people under the age of 20. Teenagers have been responsible for almost 50% more drunk driving accidents in the summer months than during the rest of the year (Washington Regional Alcohol Program).
Protect yourself from being the victim or the cause of a motor vehicle accident. Leave yourself more time to go from place to place. Drive defensively and don’t be as concerned about being “right” as you are with being “safe.” And, of course, don’t participate in distracted driving or driving under the influence.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children ages 14 and younger. Most children ages 1 – 4 who drown do so in home swimming pools. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency room care for nonfatal submersion injuries. This could mean long-term disabilities or even the loss of basic functions.
Drowning can happen anywhere, whether a lifeguard is present or not. Teens and adults increase their risk for drowning if they’ve been drinking.
As a homeowner, you can be held responsible for the injuries or death of someone who drowns or who suffers an injury in your swimming pool. Be sure to check that all filters and other parts of the pool are in good working order. Make sure the pool is fenced so young children cannot gain access. The CDC says that a four-sided isolation fence separating the pool area from the house and yard reduces the risk of drowning 83% compared to a three-sided property-line fence.
Few of us think of the possibility of an accident at an amusement park (unless it’s while we’re experiencing total terror as the roller coaster plunges 115 feet), but they do happen, and sometimes they’re deadly.
It wasn’t until a particularly horrendous accident at Disneyland in 1998 caused by poor maintenance, product liability, and inadequate training of staff that the State of California legislated that all theme park rides and portable rides (those that travel from place to place), were to be independently inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
If you have an accident at any amusement park, do not sign anything, and seek medical assistance at an emergency room immediately.
Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Be alert and be smart, and you can make this a summer to remember for its joy rather than for its tragedy.
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