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Fast Facts: Summer Activity Injuries

Longer days and warmer temperatures bring Americans to the great outdoors for barbeques, splashing in the pool or spending a day on the lake. With more time spent outside comes an increased risk of injury. A Kaiser Permanente study found that there is a 15-27% percent increase in visits to the emergency room department between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The WHA Information Center analyzed claims data from 2020 emergency department (ED) visits and reviewed demographics and locations of patients who sought treatment for summer activity injuries. The summer activities analyzed included boating accidents, drownings, tubing, water skiing and kayaking/rafting. The United States Coast Guard reports that every two-and-a-half hours someone is injured or killed in a boating accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that approximately 11 people die each day from drowning in the U.S. 

By far, the most ED visits in Wisconsin hospitals came from boating accidents—roughly 20,000 more than the next injury: drownings. The top county with ED visits resulting from boating accidents was Milwaukee County, followed by Dane County. The ZIP code with the top count of ED visits, however, is located in Rock County. Women had around 1,000 more visits to the ED for summer activity injuries than men. Women also had higher counts of drownings, while men visited the ED more for boating accidents and water skiing. The average age of patients who went to the ED was 47. More than 60 percent of the drownings involved people aged 60 and older. The highest counts of boating accidents occurred in those aged 21 to 40.

The following tips will help everyone to have a safe and fun summer:

  • Do not drink and boat
  • Wear a life jacket when doing anything on the water
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts
  • Know and understand boating rules and regulations before hitting the lake
  • Avoid dangerous swimming locations and risky conditions
  • Never go swimming or boating alone
  • Learn basic swimming and water safety