Indulgence - Not Fireworks - Main Culprit for Emergency Department Visits on July 4
June 24, 2011
Tim Lum, M.D.
Timothy Lum, M.D., Highland Hospital’s Chief of Emergency Medicine, has spent the last nine Fourth of July holidays working in an Emergency Department. He says people would be surprised to know there are not as many fireworks-related injuries as there are injuries caused by too much heat, food and/or alcohol.
"The popular thought is the ED will be flooded with fireworks injuries," said Dr. Lum. "The reality is it’s the things we are complacent about that cause people to make bad decisions and wind up in the ED on the Fourth of July."
Heat or alcohol - or a combination of the two - is often the reason for ED visits on the Fourth, Dr. Lum says. Too much heat exposure without proper hydration can lead to problems ranging from heat exhaustion to heat stroke. Excessive alcohol intake commonly is a factor in boating, car and barbeque-related accidents.
And some people end up in the ED after eating foods they normally shy away from. Eating too much salt, for example, can worsen conditions such as congestive heart failure.
"There is always concern for fireworks - as there should be - because they are dangerous instruments," Dr. Lum said. "But for most people, the things they usually don’t worry about are what they should be paying attention to this holiday."
Dr. Lum offers the following tips to avoid the ED:
- Stay hydrated. If drinking alcohol, alternate alcoholic beverages with glasses of water.
- Don’t eat foods that have been left out for too long, and eat in moderation.
- Use common sense.
- Leave fireworks to the experts.