At this time of year, many Americans head to the cottage. Whether you own a vacation home or rent a cottage for a few days or a few weeks, having a home away from home provides a much-needed respite from ordinary life and from the urban summer. However, life at the cottage also means an increased risk of some injuries:
1) Drownings and water-related injuries. Many cottages are located near a lake and offer plenty of water sports opportunities. Many cottage-dwellers love to swim in the lakes near their homes and love to try their hand at boating. While these activities can be exhilarating, they can also increase the risk of boating accidents and water-related injuries, especially if you are not used to water sports. It’s important to keep in mind that lakes are very different than pools. Lakes have undertows, currents, changing weather conditions and risks such as wildlife and underwater plants – risks which simply do not exist with pools. It is vital to emphasize to your entire family the importance of using a buddy system when swimming. It is also useful to swim and play in lakes with lifeguards, where possible.
2) Injuries to minors and children. It is often much harder to supervise children and minors in cottage country. You can place a large fence and sturdy gate around your home swimming pool, but you cannot do the same with a large lake. It takes more effort to supervise children near a cottage, where conditions are less child-safe.
3) Head injuries. Head injuries can easily happen in cottage country as a result of bicycle rides along rough hiking trails or as a result of boating accidents. Going to the cottage means more activity for most families, and many of the activities we take part in on vacation carry with them the risk of head injuries. It is important to use proper safety gear (such as life jackets on boats) during all activities. Proper gear can help prevent many of the more serious accidents that take place each year.
4) Broken bones, cuts, and scrapes. Bruises, scrapes, and bumps are an inevitable part of spending time in the great outdoors, but these minor injuries can still cause misery and suffering, especially for the younger members of your family. It’s a good idea to pack a first aid kit to prepare yourself for any minor incidents. Also, keep allergy medication as well as a bug kit (complete with insect repellant and after-bite ointment) on hand.
5) Slip and fall injuries. Trip and fall as well as slip and fall injuries are quite common in cottage country, where roads tend to be unpaved and families tend to trek along unpaved (and sometimes unmaintained hiking trails). Packing sturdy hiking and walking shoes is essential when heading out to the cottage. Using extra caution around the cottage is equally important.