Common Vacation Injuries and How to Avoid Them
It’s a joy to step away from the demands of daily life with a vacation. Traveling alone or with family or friends gives you time to unwind. Vacations can also ease stress, combat depression, boost your mood, and reset your mind. You may even return to work with renewed focus and productivity.
Unfortunately, despite your planning and anticipation, vacations can go awry. You could suffer an injury at your hotel or while playing outdoors. Be aware of common vacation injuries as you prepare to stay safe, relax and create happy memories.
Recreational Sports Misadventures
Hiking, snorkeling, skiing, ziplining, and other recreational sports add fun and adventure to your vacation. To access even more adventures off the beaten path, you can rent a golf cart, moped, bicycle, or ATV. While adrenaline-boosting, these activities also include risks.
To minimize the chances of injury from recreational activities, do the following:
- Read the activity release carefully and ensure each participant understands the risks.
- Note safety precautions and follow all the instructions.
- Do not drink alcohol or take recreational or prescription drugs that could impair you.
- Dress appropriately in proper protective gear, helmets, clothing, and footwear.
- Avoid distractions and stay focused on the activity.
- Know your limitations and avoid doing any activities that feel unsafe or too advanced.
After you sign the rental agreement, familiarize yourself with the vehicle and its controls. Know how to start, maneuver, and stop the machine safely. Wear a safety helmet or seatbelt, too. Then observe local street laws and traffic patterns as you drive on or off the road.
From swimming in the ocean to enjoying the hotel hot tub, water play relaxes your body and mind. Drowning is one of the top five causes of death related to an unintentional injury, though. Pay attention to potential dangers as you prioritize safety and enjoy the water.
Always obey the lifeguards. In the pool or ocean, avoid roughhousing and supervise children closely. The latter is especially important. Drowning is the leading cause of death for ages 1-4 when not accounting for birth defects. Since hotel pools typically do not have a lifeguard on duty, parents should be especially cautious when staying at hotels.
For outdoor activities, wear a lifejacket, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol if you’re swimming or boating. Any time you play in the ocean, check local conditions. Be aware of riptides, undertows, jellyfish, and sea urchins.
Transit options enhance your vacation. You can take public transportation, drive yourself, or walk to your destination. However, any time you step into a vehicle or hit the road, you face collision hazards. Be aware of safety measures that protect you and your family.
If you drive your own vehicle or an RV, practice safe driving procedures. Buckle up, limit distractions, and secure gear, kids, and pets. Practice defensive driving techniques like scanning the road for obstructions and dangers like pedestrians or reckless drivers. Never drive while intoxicated or sleepy, either.
When using public transit, observe your surroundings. Note potential dangers like uneven steps or slippery surfaces. Know how to hail a cab or where to wait for the train. And map your route so you know where you’re going.
Exercise precautions if you walk to your destinations, too. Wear proper footwear to avoid blisters and ankle or back pain. Flip flops might be convenient for a jaunt on the beach, but Obey street signs and local pedestrian laws, including designated walkways. Finally, be aware of your surroundings and watch for errant vehicles as you stay safe.
Heat Exhaustion, Sunburn, and Dehydration Mishaps
Sunshine boosts vitamin D levels, mood, and sleep quality. Spend too much time in the sun, however, and you could experience heat exhaustion, sunburn or dehydration. Heat exhaustion causes fatigue, cramps, headaches, dizziness, and fainting. Sunburn may cause your skin to swell and blister. Dehydration can increase thirst and make you feel dizzy, confused, crampy, or fatigued.
To prevent heat exhaustion, stay indoors or under shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Drink plenty of fluids and keep your skin cool as you spend time outdoors.
Block sunburn with adequate protection. At least 30 minutes before you head outdoors, apply sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more to all exposed skin. Reapply after swimming, sweating, toweling off, or once every two hours. Also, wear protective clothing with UV protection, like a wide-brimmed hat or a long-sleeved shirt.
Alleviate your dehydration risk when you drink between nine and 13 cups of water throughout the day. Drink even more fluids if you participate in strenuous activities or spend time in the heat. It’s also a good idea to research water quality. Find out if you need to drink bottled or purified water at your destination. Contaminated tap water may contain parasites, bacteria or viruses that make you sick.
Minor injuries like scrapes, blisters, bruises, and insect bites can happen at any time as you travel. Left untreated, these injuries could develop into more serious illnesses.
Pack a first aid kit that’s customized based on your destination. For example, include insect repellant if you’re heading to the mountains. Add common first aid items like bandaids, ointments, compresses, over-the-counter medications, and any necessary prescription medicines.
And here’s an item that often gets overlooked in vacation preparation. Make sure you pack copies of your insurance cards and allergy information for emergency personnel. If anyone has medical or allergy bracelets, make sure they wear them at all times.
While you can’t prevent every injury, you can make your next vacation safer. Simply take these precautions as you relax, have fun and enjoy time away.