It’s summertime: The kids are out of school, you’re on vacation, and you’re ready to break out the grill and the watermelon. Before you get too wrapped up in celebrating your time-off with family and neighborhood get-togethers, be sure that you know the hazards involved and protect yourself and your loved ones against hand injury. Verifying that you have the right equipment, the knowledge to use it safely, and well-fitting protective hand gear can keep your summer leisurely and emergency-free.
If you do suffer a hand injury, the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute and Hand & Wrist Urgent Care are open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. We can see you, evaluate you, and treat you all on the same day.
Summertime Hand Injury Risks to Watch Out For
If you haven’t switched to an eco-friendly, local-plant-based Arizona lawn and are still using a lawn mower, be sure to exercise caution. Tugging too hard on the starter rope of a power mower can cause shoulder-rotator-cuff tears and even shoulder dislocations. If a lawnmower is unbalanced or you drive it on a slope or over a rock, it can tip over and crush your hands, arms, or other body parts.
Sharpening the mower blades yourself can lead to tendon lacerations. Clearing rocks or other impediments may cause you to accidentally activate the blades, leading to cuts or even amputations. Be sure your mower is turned off before attempting to adjust the blades and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance to avoid suffering a hand injury.
Gardening gloves may look and feel bulky, but they can provide an extra layer of protection in case you’re distracted while clipping the hedges. Always wear gloves while gardening to protect yourself from blades, stones, glass, and thorns. Make sure your tool has a working safety mechanism so it won’t cut while not in use. The safety can also prevent children from using tools before they are ready and end up with a cut or other hand injury.
If you have a charcoal grill, use long-handled matches or a flint to light the coals. Be sure to use gloves when opening the lid. And never attempt to turn or remove food with your bare hands or a regular fork. Use long tongs and barbecue forks to keep your fingers away from the flames or coals. Never toss lighter fluid, gasoline or kerosene on the grill to make it “flame.”
Sharp knives cut more easily than dull ones, and therefore have less risk of slipping or jamming while you’re in the middle of cutting. However, a sharp knife can not only slice your hands but may amputate a finger. Always secure the item being cut on a cutting board, preferably one with grips. Cut off the ends of watermelons and other round fruit so that it can be stood on its end, minimizing the risk of the fruit rolling and the knife slipping while you’re cutting. Be sure to cut away from your body. Do not cut small fruit or avocados in your hands in order to avoid suffering a hand injury.
Baseballs, Diving Boards, and Other Sports
Any sport that involves running, jumping, and/ or throwing risks injuries to your hands, fingers, shoulders, and arms. Always wear the recommended protective gear. Kids and adults should learn how to break a fall safely to avoid jamming or breaking hands, fingers or shoulders.
When playing water sports or diving, be sure there is sufficient water in the pool before jumping in. Keep fingers off the sides of the pools where other bathers may be running or walking.
Everyone knows that they could injure themselves by falling off a bicycle, but did you know that you can create stress and injuries to your hands, shoulders, and elbows if your bicycle isn’t properly adjusted? Common biking injuries include median and ulnar nerve neuropathies, elbow tendonitis, and other repetitive motion injuries, plus wrist and hand fractures.
Your handgrips should be designed to absorb shocks, minimizing the stress on the tendons and bones in the hands and fingers. Handlebars should be set shoulder width apart and have an 8- to 10-degree sweep.
Boating and Fishing
Just as with lawnmowers, the blades in a boat mower can cause lacerations and even amputations. Never touch the blades while in use. Be sure the motor is turned all the way off before making any adjustments in order to protect yourself and others against a potential hand injury.
Handle fishing hooks with care and be sure that young children are discouraged from baiting their own hooks.
Fireworks and Sparklers
The safest way to handle fireworks is to leave them to the pros and take your family to a community fireworks show. You and your kids could suffer a hand injury such as severe burns and/or amputations due to faulty or poorly managed fireworks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children sustain about 45% of fireworks injuries. Even after the 4th of July has passed, the danger is still there: Kids play with sparklers all summer long. But while sparklers may seem “safe,” they actually burn at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep them far from tiny fingers.
Just as the airlines remind you of safety procedures before every flight, you should periodically review the safety recommendations on your equipment and tools, plus be sure that they have been properly maintained. Always have a first aid kit filled with supplies, and keep a fire extinguisher handy (don’t forget to replace if it’s close to the expiration date).
Warm up your body – including your shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers – before undertaking any sport or physical task, such as gardening or boating, that may involve pushing or pulling.
Know where the nearest medical center is. Keep your phone nearby and charged. Be sure to have pertinent medical and emergency numbers already stored on your phone in the event of a hand injury.
How to Handle a Hand Injury
If you suffer a hand, finger, wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder injury, take these immediate steps, and then follow up with emergency medical care at Hand & Wrist Urgent Care, if necessary:
For lacerations: Clean the injured area with soap and water, and/or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Protect with a lint-less bandage.
For amputations: Seek immediate medical care. Clean as above. Bandage with a lint-less bandage. Clean and ice the amputated finger tip or finger. (Note: Highly damaged tips and fingers cannot be re-attached.)
For first-degree burns: For superficial, 1st-degree burns that only affect the outer layer of the skin, soak the burned area in cool water for at least 5 minutes. Apply lidocaine or aloe vera gel. Treat with an antibiotic ointment and cover loosely in lint-less gauze. For 2nd or 3rd degree burns (blistering, peeling, bleeding), seek medical care immediately.
Learn more about first aid care for a hand injury at WebMD.com.
When to Seek Urgent Care
Everybody suffers minor injuries from time to time that can be easily handled with a home first aid kit. But how do you know your hand injury requires medical treatment? Here are some of the signs:
- The pain is worse than you’ve ever experienced before
- The pain feels “different” than other pains you’ve experienced
- The pain doesn’t resolve on its own
- You have a lot of swelling and/or discoloration
- You felt or heard a “pop” during the injury
- You feel numb in the injured area, neck, and/or back
- You cannot move your injured finger, wrist, hand or arm
Come to Hand & Wrist Urgent Care
If your summer hand injury requires more than first aid, the professional team at the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute can handle everything from diagnosis to treatment in one location You’ll find us at 8841 E. Bell Rd. #201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260. You can also call us at (480) 351-6483 or contact us online. We’re open from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.
If you have an emergency hand injury, visit Hand & Wrist Urgent Care in the same building, 8841 E. Bell Rd. Ste. #102 Scottsdale, AZ 85260. We will evaluate you within 10 minutes of your arrival. Walk-ins are welcome.
Have a safe summer!