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April 18, 2020

Avoid risky behaviour during COVID-19

For many people, the sunny weather is a welcome distraction from COVID-19 cabin fever. But while some may be taking the opportunity to dig in to home improvement projects, or get outside for activities (while practicing physical distancing, of course), they can risk putting added strain on health care workers.

This is causing particular concern for those who work in trauma, like Teri Czajka, clinical manager of trauma and general surgery at Hamilton Health Sciences.

“With nicer weather, we usually see an increase of accidents involving recreational vehicles such as boats, motorcycles and ATVs,” she says. “We were expecting that with more people staying home, we might see a decrease in some of these activities, but we may actually be seeing an increase because people have time on their hands and want to get out of the house.

“Add to that people who are taking on home improvement projects where they could be putting themselves in danger, and the potential for trips to the hospital increases.”

Think safety first

Before tackling odd jobs on your to-do list, or taking part in physical activity, think about safety first:

  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or roller blading.
  • Plan for supervision around your pool because accidents can happen in all age groups.
  • Be mindful of heat exposure and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration in warm weather.
  • Plan for protective wear and equipment that may be required when tackling projects around the house. Take extreme precautions when using a ladder or climbing.
  • Children may be around the house more than usual this spring, so plan for their supervision. Keep tools, sharp objects, sprays and other chemicals out of their reach.

“Many injuries that occur around the home can be prevented if people slow down and plan what they are doing,” says Teri.

Avoid high-risk activities

While enjoyable, activities like riding ATVs, going for boat rides, or taking a drive in the country can unnecessarily increase your risk of injury. Over the past few weeks, HHS has treated more than 8 patients for injuries related to motorcycling or dirt biking. Consider pressing pause on these pastimes as our community focuses on slowing the spread of COVID-19.

If you have children, make sure to supervise them carefully. Some kids’ activities, particularly trampolining, are a common reason for trips to the emergency department.

“By taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and well-being, everyone in our community can help us focus our efforts and resources on treating those suffering from COVID-19,” says Dr. Samir Faidi, medical director of the trauma program at Hamilton General Hospital.

If you need medical help

If medical assistance is required, there are several options for help, depending on the nature of the situation: your family doctor, Telehealth, urgent care, an emergency department or calling 911.