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The Accidental Tourist

One of the reasons we work hard is to be able to take a great summer vacation.  Many families and young professionals on the North Shore are preparing for family vacations before it’s time to go back-to-school or the cold weather sets in again.  From day trips in Essex County or Middlesex County, such as strolling in Gloucester, climbing Ward Hill or enjoying the nightlife in Cambridge, to bigger trips up Route 93 or 95 to a tranquil lake in New Hampshire, or Hampton Beach or even Niagara Falls; can be awesome, relaxing or exciting—as you choose.  Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of possible accidents, hazards or injuries while away from home and what you can do to be prepared.

Car Accidents

commerce-acts-books-477966-mDriving to new places can be exciting, but dangerous.  Navigating unfamiliar roads while taking in new scenery can be distracting and hazardous.  Studies show that almost 20% of people get sick or are injured while on vacation.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among healthy travelers and “each year, 1.3 million people are killed and 20–50 million are injured in motor vehicle crashes worldwide”.  When visiting new places or new countries, tourists may be unsure of traffic rules and regulations.  For example, in Bermuda or London driving on the left side of the road as opposed to the right side.  From 2011 through 2013, 621 Americans died in road traffic crashes abroad (25% of all non-natural deaths to US citizens abroad) (Yellowbook, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

It’s exciting to try new things while on vacation.  Renting a motorcycle or scooter or zip-lining or paddle boarding.  A combination of unfamiliar surroundings and an unfamiliar activity can make for a dangerous situation.  When enjoying these vacation activities take care to follow the rules, understand how unfamiliar equipment works and think safety!

Swimming Accidents

The summer months can be hot and a great way to cool down on vacation is to go for a swim.  Take note of posted signs and rules pertaining to the beaches, ponds, and check for lifeguards or safety equipment nearby.  Recreation areas may not always require lifeguards and help in an emergency may be a long way away.  For anyone who may not be accustomed to swimming in the ocean, be aware of jellyfish, sea life, and in some places, sharks! Really!  According to National Geographic, warm weather climates such as Florida and Hawaii have the most shark attacks reported in the U.S.  But we usually see a few in Massachusetts every summer.  Swimmers should also be aware of unseen dangers such as rip currents and undertow.  More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older (57%) occurred in natural water settings according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food Poisoning

One great part of traveling is sampling the local food.  Regardless of whether you travel out of the country or to another state for some pre-back-to-school rest and relaxation you should be aware of any potential hazards or reactions to sampling different foods.  “Each year, 76 million Americans are sickened by foodborne illnesses” (Safe at the Plate: How to Avoid Food Poisoning, Bonnie Taub-Dix).  Be careful when eating raw or uncooked meats and shellfish because it may be prone to foodborne disease, such as Salmonella.  When traveling outside of the country be aware that sometimes the drinking water may not be clean or healthy.  Stomach bugs can ruin a planned vacation.

Don’t let potential vacation dangers keep you from having a good time away from home with the family.  Just use good judgment when experiencing new things.  But, if you have an accident and are injured while on vacation, seek medical attention and then perhaps, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.