Patient Care

Staying Safe in the Finger Lakes

Aug. 3, 2023
8 Tips to Prevent Lake Injuries

Living among the 11 gorgeous Finger Lakes brings access to endless fun. But summertime play—from boating and jet-skiing to tubing and swimming—also brings risks and a rise in injuries.

Drs. Katherine Rizzone and Peter Obourn, UR Medicine board-certified sports medicine physicians, offer tips on how to avoid common lake-related injuries.

Most Common Lake Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Dr. Obourn treats hundreds of lake-related injuries yearly at UR Medicine Orthopaedic Urgent Care in Canandaigua. "Concussions caused by head trauma are the most frequent injury we see," he said.

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Boating accidents and extreme water sports are the most common causes. But Orthopaedic Urgent Care also treats many other problems.

"Other common summer and lake-related injuries that we see include hamstring injuries, shoulder dislocations (subluxations), and wrist fractures," said Dr. Obourn.

Preventing Lake-Related Injuries

To prevent common water sports-related injuries, Dr. Rizzone recommends the following:

  1. Take a Boating Safety Course: Before operating a jet ski or any boat, take a boating safety course. In fact, New York state requires a safety course for jet ski operators.
  1. Follow Safe Water Sports Practices: Have a spotter when towing skiers or wakeboarders and ensure only one rider is on a tube. Be cautious during water sports activities to avoid collisions that can lead to concussions.
  1. Drive at Safe Speeds: When operating a boat or jet ski, follow safe speed limits and operate the vehicle responsibly to prevent accidents.

Critical Lake Safety Tips – What You Need to Know

Here are several key safety tips from Dr. Rizzone that should never be overlooked when enjoying the Finger Lakes.

  1. Avoid or Limit Alcohol Consumption: Mixing alcohol or other substances with water activities can impair judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents. It's best to save the drinks until after you're done on the water.
  1. Closely Supervise Swimmers of All Abilities: Be mindful of the swimming abilities of all individuals, especially children. Supervision and life jackets are essential to prevent drownings. Accidents can happen unexpectedly, so life preservers and a watchful eye can save lives.
  1. Watch the Weather: Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be aware of the risk of thunderstorms and lightning. It's crucial to head to shore if a storm is approaching.
  1. Take the Temperature: Be cautious of the water temperature, especially if you have kids or people with medical conditions like diabetes that can affect temperature sensitivity. Hypothermia can set in quickly in cold water.
  1. Look Out for Foreign Objects: Pay attention to foreign objects in the water, such as water chestnuts and zebra mussels, which can cause injuries if stepped on.

Of course, most people want to jump right into the fun when they jump into the lake. But an injury ruins the day for everyone. Following these safety tips is like an insurance policy—a small price to pay for summertime bliss.

UR Medicine Orthopaedic Urgent Care

If you are experiencing an orthopaedic injury and need medical assistance, UR Medicine Orthopaedic Urgent Care in Canandaigua is here for you.

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