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Sand, sunscreen & flip flops - their role in summer injuries

31 January 2014

Sand, sunscreen and flip flops - their role in summer injuries

Rusty nails piercing jandals, allergic reactions to sunscreen, sand in the eyes, slips on spilled ice creams, collapsing deck chairs, burns from the barbie, and pulled muscles from playing backyard cricket.

These are just some of the 'seasonal' mishaps that led to ACC injury claims last summer.

A total of 439,878 claims were received between 1 December 2012 and 28 February 2013.

That put summer slightly ahead of winter (435,125 claims) and spring (420,690 claims) but trailing autumn (468,648 claims) as the most 'injurious' season last year.

ACC Injury Prevention Programme Manager, Megan Nagel, says there are always small numbers of claims each year that have a distinctively seasonal flavour.

"Beach-related injuries tend to be more frequent in summer, as you'd expect, while injuries caused by heaters are more common in winter."

However, other types of injuries occur constantly throughout the year.

"Falls in the home are the number one cause of injuries in New Zealand, regardless of what time of year it is."

Ms Nagel's advice to Kiwis wanting to see out the rest of this summer safely therefore includes a mix of seasonal and 'year round' injury prevention tips.

"Summer can be a popular time for socialising and outside DIY, so we remind people to be responsible hosts if serving alcohol, and pay attention to safety when using things like power tools and ladders."

"During summer, people also often throw themselves back into physical activity after a less than active winter. Building up your activity gradually and remembering to warm up before exercising can reduce your risk of injury."

At home, Ms Nagel advises Kiwis to “pay attention to hazards that can cause slips, trips and falls, such as loose rugs, spilled liquid on floors and blown light bulbs."

Key statistics

Seasonal injuries last summer involving:
• Deck chairs - 54 claims - examples of accidents included jammed fingers in deckchairs, collapsing deckchairs, and falls off deckchairs
• Sunscreen - 57 claims - examples of mishaps included sunscreen in eyes, allergic reactions, overstretching and losing balance applying sunscreen
• Ice Cream - 41 claims - examples of accidents included piercing mouth with ice cream sticks, slipping on spilled ice cream, wrists hurt scooping ice cream, and strained backs lifting cartons of ice cream
• Barbeques - 521 claims - injuries included burns from touching the BBQ, strains lifting the BBQ, and bruising from walking into the BBQ
• Jandals - 213 claims - examples of mishaps included nails entering the foot through the jandal, stubbed toes and blisters, and slips while wearing jandals
• Sand - 877 claims - examples of injuries included burnt feet from hot sand, sand in the eyes, bluebottle stings from digging in the sand, and sprained ankles from running through sand
• Beach or backyard cricket – 67 claims – accidents included being hit by the bat, diving for the ball and injuring arms and shoulders, and strained muscles while batting or bowling

Home injuries 2012/13 financial year
Total home injuries - around 670,000 claims
Falls in the home - around 290,000 claims

Injury prevention tips at a glance

Around the home
• Point out hazards that you may be familiar with, but which could trip up visitors, eg single steps between rooms
• Wipe up spills as soon as they happen
• Fasten loose rugs to the floor
• Run power cords along walls, not across rooms
• Make sure there’s adequate lighting indoors, especially on stairs, and on outdoor access ways
• Put away toys and keep clutter, guests’ luggage etc clear of walkways

• Be realistic about your ability – if you can’t do it, get an expert
• Use a safe, stable ladder – always keep three points of contact, eg two feet and one hand, and don’t over-reach sideways
• Make sure you know how to use hire equipment
• Wear appropriate protection, eg closed shoes and ear, eye and respiratory protection, as necessary
• Plan your schedule so you’re not rushing to get the job finished at the end of the day, when you’re tired and more likely to slip up

Keeping active
• Warm up and cool down before/after physical activity
• If returning to activity after a break, build up the activity gradually
• Keep well hydrated

If drinking alcohol
• Set a limit on your drinking and stick to it
• Eat substantial food and pace yourself with non-alcoholic drinks
• Look after your mates

Disclaimer: Summer injury statistics were obtained by searching for key terms such as deck chairs, sunscreen, ice cream, etc that appeared in accident descriptions on ACC claim forms. The items referred to may not have been a direct cause of injury in all instances.


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