HealthONE - June 01, 2021

The days are getting longer. The temperature is rising. The kids are getting restless. This can only mean one thing: Summer is nearly here! Fun and adventure abound throughout Colorado during the summer months, but before you trade in your skis for your mountain bike—our experts would like to share some summer safety tips to help keep you and your loved one safe, healthy and active.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased interest in exploring the outdoors close to home,” says Melanie Wuzzardo RN, BSN, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Swedish Medical Center. “Colorado has so many wonderful outdoor environments and activities to enjoy throughout the year, and especially during the summer months. While beautiful, our landscape and location do pose some threats to safety so it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge before you begin your next adventure.”

Take a Hike

Colorado has a seemingly endless supply of hiking trails, some perfect for a novice and others intense enough to challenge a seasoned hiker. When deciding to hike, Wuzzardo recommends taking the time to plan and prepare. Always tell someone your plans (choose a loved one who isn’t adventuring with you!) and review the weather forecast. For many of the higher elevations, afternoon storms come in quickly. Wuzzardo says, “A hike up a 14-er [a mountain with an elevation of 14,000 ft or more], for example, is best started in the early morning so you can get back below tree line before potential thunderstorms hit.” It’s also important to bring an ample supply of water and food, appropriate for the length of your hike. And don’t forget proper clothing and sun protection! “Altitude contributes to your UV exposure because there is less atmosphere to absorb UV rays. Be prepared by wearing clothing that protects you from the sun and using sunscreen, sunglasses and/or a hat,” Wuzzardo explains.

Hop on a Bike

Riding a bike is a wonderful way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you enjoy road cycling, mountain biking or a cruise on a flat bike trail, consider these tips before you get underway. “No matter where or how long you plan to bike, wearing a properly fitted helmet is a must,” says Wuzzardo. “Experts estimate that helmets reduce the likelihood of a serious head injury by 60 percent.” Wuzzardo recommends visiting a bike shop for help in finding the right helmet and fit for you. She also advises bikers to make an effort to stay in control while biking. Undoubtedly, gaining speed on downhill can be a lot of fun, but it also can be dangerous for you and those around you. Only take on a hill that you know you can handle—try starting small and growing your skill over time!

Go for a Swim

While Colorado isn’t known for its bodies of water, there are many places to enjoy swimming—either in reservoirs, lakes or local swimming pools. No matter where you are, Wuzzardo cautions to look before you jump or dive into water. “The American Red Cross says, ‘look before you leap’— this means you should know the depth, temperature and state of the water (moving or still) before you get wet.” It’s also advised to never swim alone and to always ensure young children are closely supervised. Wuzzardo suggests using a ‘water watcher card’ that designates one adult who is actively supervising children in the water. After a certain amount of time, the card is passed to another adult to hand off responsibility. And of course, don’t forget the sunscreen for this activity either! “Most people have a lot of skin exposed to the sun while swimming or spending time near water,” Wuzzardo says. “Be sure to lather up with waterproof sunscreen and reapply every few hours. One significant burn is not only painful, but it also increases your risk of skin cancer. It’s best to be on the safe side when protecting yourself from the sun.”

“There are so many health benefits to enjoying the outdoors throughout the year, especially during the warmer months of summer,” explains Wuzzardo. “As long as adventurers adhere to some of these general safety guidelines, we prescribe as much outdoor activity as possible!”

Swedish Medical Center is home to one of the leading trauma centers in Colorado, serving trauma and neurotrauma patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region. At our Level I Trauma Center, our highly trained physicians are standing by with emergency care resources and leading-edge technology to provide patients with advanced care after sustaining a traumatic injury.

As part of our commitment to trauma care, we are dedicated to educating the community about ways to prevent injury. Injuries are very common but most of them are preventable. Our mission is to prevent unintentional injuries from happening in all ages of life and preserve quality of life. Unintentional injuries include those that result from motor vehicle collisions, falls, poisonings, drowning, and recreational and sports-related activities. Let us help you remain injury free!