Published on July 01, 2022

Silver Cross ER Doctor Offers Summer Safety Tips

Dr. David Mikolajczak

Dr. Dave Mikolajczak is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician on staff at Silver Cross Hospital.

In 35 years of practicing emergency medicine practice, Dr. Dave Mikolajczak says he’s seen it all, especially when it comes to summertime injuries.

“My kids wonder why I’m so concerned about safety,” said Dr. Mikolajczak, who works primarily at Silver Cross Hospital’s Homer Glen Emergency Care Center, 12701 W. 143rd St. “But I’ve seen what can happen when you’re not careful.”

That’s especially true in the summer, he said, when injuries can range from twisted ankles that failed to negotiate flip-flops, to severe injury or death from exposure to excessive heat or failure to practice water safety.

“There’s a reason why they’re called ‘life preservers,’” Dr. Mikolajczak said. “They really do preserve life. You won’t see the Coast Guard on the water without life jackets or preservers, and they’re the pros.”

Water-related injuries can include concussions or worse from diving into a pool or another body of water that’s too shallow. And, of course, parents need to keep a very close eye on their children near water, even in the backyard pool.

 “I’ve had children come in who have drowned after parents turned their backs only for a few minutes,” he added. “You can’t do that with children. And the same goes for backyard trampolines and swing sets. Don’t let them out there unsupervised.”

Many summer injuries can also be traced to excessive use of alcohol or other substances, Dr. Mikolajczak said, including severe dehydration and danger with fireworks.

 “Usually, it’s young males who come in with fireworks-related injuries…often with devastating consequences,” he added, “Or sparklers, which many people think are ‘safe.’ They burn at 1500 F; water boils at 212 F.”

 While not all who come in with fireworks-related injuries have used alcohol excessively, that is one of the biggest risk factors of dehydration when the weather becomes extremely hot.

“If you’re sweating profusely, or, worse, not sweating at all in the heat, you need to cool down immediately. Get inside where it’s air conditioned, even if it’s in your car for a while. Drink water or a sports drink. Not cola or alcohol. Pour some water on yourself as well. If you’re feeling really bad, go to the ER, or call 911,” he said.

Even the backyard can hold dangers if people don’t take precautions, Dr. Mikolajczak said. Using grills improperly can result in a trip to the emergency department for burns.

Among the most frequent summertime injuries he sees are from people doing various landscaping work in their yards, including using a weed whacker without safety glasses, or a chainsaw without the safety apparatus attached.

Just as it doesn’t take much to cause an injury, Dr. Mikolajczak says it doesn’t take much to prevent one, either. Just some common sense will keep you and your family safe this summer.

“Have fun this summer, but be safe,” he added. “And as one of my colleagues says, ‘you don’t want to be the most important patient in the Emergency Room.’”

The board-certified emergency doctors at the Silver Cross Freestanding Emergency Center in Homer Glen can handle any illness or injury, no matter how big or small, for patients of all ages. For less severe illnesses or injuries, Silver Cross also offers urgent care services at its two Urgent Care Centers in New Lenox and Mokena.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.