Summer has arrived, and while many people are planning vacations and summer camps, emergency room doctors are preparing for what they call “trauma season” due to the increase in emergency room visits and the severity of injuries.

Typically, people are more active in the summer. When you combine a greater number of active people, an increase in travel and extreme temperatures, opportunities for accidents and injury also spike.

With planning and common sense, serious injuries can be prevented, and you can save yourself a trip to the emergency room.

Travel. As a motorist, it’s important to have a heightened sense of awareness, especially during high-traffic times. Always wear your seatbelt, and eliminate distracting elements in the car, such as texting and emailing. While El Paso has an ordinance that strictly forbids the use of cell phones while driving, many people still try to get away with it. Texting requires visual and manual attention from the driver and is by far the most problematic distraction.

Be sure any children or pets are safely secured, and keep them occupied with a toy or activity so they do not distract you while you are driving. If children or pets ride in the back seat, make sure to also leave a valuable item with them, like your wallet or purse. Occasionally, parents get into a routine and forget their most valuable cargo in the heat of the summer.

Equipment. No matter which summer activity you choose, you should always wear the proper safety gear to protect yourself. Of course, one of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a helmet. Helmets should be worn at all times when cycling, skateboarding and motorcycling, among other activities. It is also important to ensure the helmet fits securely each time you put it on.

Wear reflective clothing if you are sharing the road with motorists. Runners and cyclists should be especially careful. Try to run or bike during daylight hours when motorists have better visibility.

Water. In Texas, the prime season for lake and pool activities extends well beyond the summer months. It’s important to remain vigilant when children are playing in or near water because an accident can happen in an instant. If you are in a large group, it’s also important to have a buddy system in place so someone will know if you are missing. In a drowning situation, quick action is critical.

Before jumping or diving into the water, be sure you know the depth of the water. Diving into shallow water could result in a head, neck or spine injury.

Following a few simple guidelines can ensure everyone has a safe summer!

Jose Crespo, M.D., Medical Director of Emergency Services, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare