Tips for a Safe Outdoor Season: Use Your Head to Protect Your Brain
Submitted by the Brain Injury Association of Virginia
As the school year ends and gives way to vacations and hot summer weather, outdoor activities pick up the pace: sports and camp games are in full swing, and there is good weather for bike riding, skate-boarding, hiking, and other types of outdoor activities. This is a good time to remember that brain injuries can happen at any time of year, but children and adults are at greater risk during those times of increased outdoor activity.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your family’s brains safe, while enjoying all the health benefits that outdoor recreational activities can provide:
- Adults and children should always wear a helmet for riding a bicycle, motor bike, or all-terrain vehicles, or when playing a contact sport. A properly fitted helmet can provide a great deal of protection to the brain in the event of a fall, crash, or physical impact. Be sure that your helmet sits firmly on your head and does not tip backwards or wobble from side to side. If you fall or bang your head while wearing your helmet, check the helmet to be sure that it has not sustained any damage---if it has dents, tears, or cracks, replace it. Remember that your brain’s protection is only as good as what you cover it with.
- Stay alert. Outdoor activities are opportunities for fun and lots of adventures and children are always exploring new places and discovering new things. When you’re having fun outdoors, it’s easy to lose track of where your children are, or what they’re doing. Loss of oxygen to the brain from choking, near drowning or from drinking or eating a toxic substance can cause irreversible brain damage and can result in permanent disability.
- If you celebrate your team’s victory, do so responsibly. Too many people are living with brain injuries as a consequence of an accident involving alcohol. When you attend any gathering involving alcohol, always designate a non-drinking driver to get you home safely, and if no one is sober, call a cab or another friend for a ride. Don’t let your children---toddlers or teenagers---ride in a car with someone who is impaired by alcohol.