Intermountain Healthcare

Emergency Medical Physician Encourages Everyone to Safely Enjoy the Outdoors


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/24/2020 --Summer is a beautiful time to explore the great outdoors. There is an abundance of outdoor recreation but with that comes opportunities for more accidents. In fact, emergency room visits often spike during the warm summer months.

Dr. Nicholas Allan, an emergency medicine physician at Intermountain Healthcare's Cedar City Hospital and an Iron County Search & Rescue Team member, offers some advice on how to make your outdoor adventures safe this summer.

"Having fun outdoors should always start with the three Ps," said Allan, "which are planning, preparation, and prevention."

Planning -
Many common emergencies and injuries occurring in the outdoors are weather-related. An important part of planning is checking the weather forecast and scheduling recreational activities around the weather. In Utah, flash floods can occur in slot canyons, and rocks can be slippery in the rain. Extreme heat can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburn. Cloudy or foggy conditions can result in disorientation and becoming lost.

"Don't let the weather spoil the fun, plan accordingly." said Allan. "Be extremely careful around creeks and streams. Water levels can be high and water is moving swiftly. If it starts raining while in a slot canyon, get to higher ground immediately and wait the storm out."

When making plans for an outdoor activity, consider the weather and the three Ds: difficulty, duration, and distance — and plan and prepare accordingly.

Preparation -
Prepare for your adventure by doing some research before leaving home. Read up about trail etiquette, study a map, or find online information about what to expect as far as how difficult the activity might be and how long the hike or biking trail is expected to take.

"Always know where you are going before heading out into the outdoors," said Allan. "Tell someone where you are going and go with a buddy. A good map or GPS is always helpful. Make sure you are fit enough to do your planned activity and be sure to have the right gear, equipment, and clothing. And always prepare for contingencies."

Essential items for outdoor adventures include: navigation (map, compass, or GPS), sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen), water, extra food, a first aid kit, flashlight, and a lightweight jacket. Advance preparation can prevent many accidents and injuries.

Prevention -
"Common difficulties can be prevented with the right preparation," Allan said. "Remember that alcohol is not hydration and may impair better judgment. Also remember not to feed or touch wildlife and only take pictures from a safe distance."

Common sense, planning, and preparation can prevent many summer outdoor injuries, including: dehydration, sunburn, knee and ankle sprains, insect bites/stings, and snake/animal bites. Learn safety tips to prevent unfortunate wildlife encounters.

"It's always better to have fun and play it safe, than end up in the emergency room," said Allan. "Plan, prepare, and prevent as best you can and then know that help – such as ER caregivers or search and rescue volunteers – are just a phone call away. Be wise in the outdoors and enjoy this summer safely."

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare or the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.