Just like people forget how to drive safely the first time flakes fall each winter, this weekend’s high heat advisories seemed to caught people off guard and send many to area emergency rooms.

Frank Illuzzi, MD, CPE, FACEP, medical director of Specialty Services, said the sudden onset of warmer weather and stir-crazy feelings stemming from the pandemic lockdowns saw residents of all ages heading outdoors for a variety of activities their bodies might not have been prepared for.

“As folks are reemerging and engaging in summer activities, we need to be mindful that our abilities may not be what they were at the end of last summer,” Dr. Illuzzi said.

The SVMC ED and urgent care centers in the Fairfield region experienced “an uptick in minor (and not so minor) injuries” as a result, he added.

“We encourage everyone to enjoy the summer weather, just be careful and ease into your favorite activities,” Dr. Illuzzi said.

Some tips for avoiding a trip to the ED include:

  • Don’t go outside without wearing sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Stay hydrated to avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
  • Be alert around water, whether it’s the pool or beach. More than 8,000 children come close to drowning each year. The younger the child, the greater the risk, so teach your children to swim as early as possible.
  • Practice safe food handling and storage. Keep perishable food cold and make sure anything on the grill is cooked enough.
  • Watch the activity around a campfire.
  • Wear helmets and pads when bike or scooter riding, roller blading or skateboarding.
  • Follow directions when using tools and lawn equipment.
  • When the heat index is high, take frequent breaks when working or having fun outside. Seek the shade if possible.
  • Practice safe boating behavior and wear life jackets when out on the boat.
  • Stay off your phone and leave the headphones behind when hiking, biking or walking so you can be aware of your surroundings.
  • Watch children on playgrounds. More than 20,000 children under 14 are seen in the ED each year for playground-related traumatic brain injuries.
  • Leave fireworks to the professionals.