Featured Injury Prevention

Tips for staying safe while enjoying your summer

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Written by Lindsay Smith

When the summer weather arrives, Canadians get outside to enjoy the warmth and sunshine while we have it. Unfortunately, the summer weather also coincides with an increase in the number of people getting injured. That might sound scary, but Sunnybrook’s Injury Prevention Coordinator, Brandy Tanenbaum, says “injuries are predictable and preventable” and she shared some tips for staying as safe as possible this summer while still participating in the activities you’ve waited all winter to enjoy.

Water safety

When around water, Brandy says it’s always important to be aware of the weather and changing conditions and not to engage in activities that are beyond your skill level.

“[Ask yourself if you] have the necessary skills to be successful around water,” she says, adding swimming lessons are “critically important.”

For people who might be unfamiliar with the water conditions in Ontario, it’s important to know the risks before swimming or boating.

“Aside from swimming pools, we have so many lakes and rivers and people may not be aware of the risks associated with being in and around the water,” Brandy says.

She also emphasized the importance of wearing appropriately sized life jackets and using personal flotation devices correctly.

“Always use a life jacket when canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding,” Brandy says. “Even if you’re close to shore, it’s still good practice.”

And if you’re jumping off docks or diving boards, Brandy says it’s important to know the depth of the water before you jump or you risk spinal cord or traumatic brain injury.

“No diving in headfirst, no pushing [people] into pools or pushing people off docks.”

Motorcycle safety

Brandy, who has had her motorcycle license for nine years, says most people don’t understand the vulnerability of driving a motorcycle.

“You’re riding on a motorcycle with no seatbelt … no airbags; there’s nothing to keep me safe on the motorcycle other than myself,” she says.

She recommends that motorcyclists take safety courses to develop their skills, and to be cautious about alcohol or substance use as well as tiredness before driving.

Brandy also says motorcyclists should be wearing “all the gear all the time.”

“It’s particularly important to have a safety certified helmet, to wear proper body protection: proper boots, proper pants, proper jacket and gloves.”

As for other drivers, Brandy says they can contribute to road safety by being aware of motorcyclists and sharing the road with them.

“If you see a motorcycle, give it space,” she says. “Don’t quickly change into a lane and cut someone off.”

Be mindful of substance use

Brandy says when it comes to alcohol or cannabis use, what’s important to remember is that substances will affect everyone differently. So, be cautious and know your limits.

There are low-risk drinking guidelines and lower-risk cannabis use guidelines available online that Brandy says can help people understand how to manage and monitor their substance use.

“There are safer ways to consume alcohol and cannabis,” she says. “It’s part of the education approach to learn those guidelines and to apply them in each of our lives to minimize negative outcomes, including injury.”

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Lindsay Smith