May 21, 2018

Memorial Day weekend ushers in vacation season but brings a spike in preventable accidents.


Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer vacation season. It’s a time of backyard barbecues, boating and all things outdoors.

It can also be one of the busiest weekends for emergency responders.

Victims of automobile, boating, motorcycle, swimming and all-terrain vehicle accidents flood Vanderbilt University Medical Center each year during this holiday weekend, which is considered the official kick-off to summer.

“Many of these accidents could have been prevented or significantly reduced in severity with proper safety precautions such as wearing helmets and seatbelts,” said Richard Miller, M.D., chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Vanderbilt. “Alcohol is also a big contributor to accidents and injuries. It is critical to stay hydrated, consume alcohol in moderation and know your limits. Taking the keys away from those impaired may save a life.”

Among Memorial Day weekend trauma admissions: motor vehicle collisions. Many of these car accidents are due to impaired driving, distracted driving and the overall heavy traffic over this weekend.

“One poor decision can impact the lives of many,” said Alex Jahangir, M.D., medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn and Emergency Surgery at Vanderbilt. “I would encourage everyone to make responsible decisions this Memorial Day and celebrate the lives of those who defended and protected the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Vanderbilt offers these reminders for the upcoming holiday weekend:

  • Fire: Properly clean grills, check for gas leaks and only use grills outside. Carefully monitor anyone who is near a fire of any kind, and properly extinguish fire pits when not in use.
  • Water: Never swim alone, closely supervise children, wear flotation devices when boating and be mindful of other boaters and skiers nearby.
  • Travel: Wear helmets at all times when riding a bicycle or motorcycle; wear seatbelts at all times when traveling by car; obey the speed limit and other traffic laws; refrain from texting or other distracting activities while driving; and never consume alcohol while driving. Also, have your child’s car seat checked by calling your local police department or fire station and asking for a certified car seat technician.
  • Sun: Temperatures across the Southeast are climbing, making heat-related illnesses and sunburn a concern. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If feeling faint or nauseous, get into a cool, shady place immediately.
  • Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake, as it can impair judgment and intensify the consequences of heat exposure.