Courtesy of Michelle Fontaine, MD, Orange Regional Medical Center
MIDDLETOWN – Cold weather is behind us and our hands have emerged from their mittens into a world with hazards.
During the summer, the emergency room typically sees an increase in traumatic hand and finger injuries. And, it’s not surprising that the surge comes as yard work begins, since lawnmowers are a common cause of hand injuries.
To ensure you cut your lawn and nothing else, taking a few simple precautions can help. Always wear gloves as a first line of defense when operating a mower or other trimming tools. Keep your hands away from blades and the chute at all times. If your mower is clogged, use extreme caution when cleaning it out. Never touch mower blades with your hands, even if the engine is off. Once an obstruction is cleared, the blades may unexpectedly turn and cause serious bodily damage.
Grilling is another culprit. We see slicing injuries not just from basic food prep – which is a year-round issue – but from people using knives improperly. For example, we see people separate frozen burger patties or slice buns in their hands rather than on a table top.
Should you suffer a hand injury this summer, it is important to treat the wound properly and know when to go to the emergency room. First, rinse any bleeding wound, the clean it with mild soap and water or some dilute peroxide and water and cover it with something clean and preferably lint-free. For cuts or impact injuries, apply ice. Have someone transport you to a nearby emergency department – especially if you’re presenting any of these telltale indicators:
- If your finger or wrist looks crooked or twisted, this usually indicates a broken bone.
- If you have a deep, open wound that reveals bone, tendons or anything white colored within the hand.
- If you have a cut that results in pulsatile bleeding.
- If you’ve suffered any sort of amputation or partial amputation of a finger, or you have a fingertip that is turning blue or purplish.
Have fun this summer! But if your fun gets out of hand, know that we are here to care for you. The sooner we are able to examine and treat your injuries, the better your outcome will be.
Michelle Fontaine, MD
Dr. Fontaine is Board-certified in Orthopedics and specializes in surgery of the hand and upper extremities. She earned her medical degree from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD., and completed her hand surgery Fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center/Union Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of two Army Achievement medals and two Army Commendation medals recognizing her military service, which includes serving as an orthopedic surgeon for the 47th Combat Support Hospital stationed in Al Asad, Iraq. Dr. Fontaine: 845-333-7575.