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Published on June 28, 2010

Don't let accidents or injury ruin your holiday weekend

Mercy's Wound Healing Center offers summer safety tips


As the July 4th holiday weekend approaches, the local experts at Mercy's Wound Healing Center, a National Healing Corporation Wound Healing Center, offer the following safety tips to help keep your summer accident and injury free.

"Emergency rooms see a spike in visits during the summer as people spend more time outdoors and pursue activities they don't have time for during the rest of the year," says Trisha Carlson, director of clinical quality and education for National Healing Corporation. Carlson trains health care professionals on the latest therapies for chronic wounds which may stem from untreated cuts, burns, bites and infections.

  • Never make your own fireworks or relight a "dud." For minor burns caused by fireworks, barbeque grills and camp fires, relieve pain and prevent contamination by submerging the burn in cool water. Use sterile dressings but don't apply ointment or home remedies such as butter or petroleum jelly that may seal in heat or cause infection.
  • Avoid recreational water illnesses by following public health warnings posted at beaches and lakes since even very small amounts of sewage or animal waste can infect open sores or be swallowed. For "swimmer's itch," an allergic skin rash cased by parasites in contaminated salt or fresh water, resist the impulse to scratch. Instead, soothe it with cool compresses, anti-itch lotion, corticosteroid cream or a paste made of baking soda.
  • Insect repellents can help reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry viruses. Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin but don't apply it to cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Sweating or getting wet may require reapplication. A rule of thumb is to reapply when mosquitoes begin to bite.
  • Most cases of Lyme disease occur in the spring and summer months, putting campers, hikers and gardeners at greater risk. Choose light-colored clothing that enable ticks to be seen and cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat. Conduct a full-body check for ticks each night before going to bed after outdoor activities.
  • Children, the elderly and those with high blood pressure have increased risk for heat exhaustion and, during warm days, should drink more water and stay away from beverages containing caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
  • Break in new shoes before wearing them on a hike or vacation. People with diabetes, who are at a higher risk for chronic foot wounds, should always wear socks and avoid wearing sandals or shoes which can irritate the skin and lead to blisters.
  •  Always wash your hands after being outside because dirty hands are a primary source of infection.

For more information on treating chronic or infected wounds, contact Mercy's Wound Healing Center located at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th Street SE., or call 319-398-6400.


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