Halloween is mostly over, Thanksgiving is a couple weeks away, and the risks of injury and illness associated with such activities remain as high as ever, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, injuries attributed to participation in an extreme sports activity such as skydiving, a triathlon or whitewater rafting rose 4 percent in 2014 compared with the prior year, while injuries connected to drinking and driving increased 6 percent.
“Staying safe has never been more important,” said Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
“When parents and teachers talk about outdoor sports and activities, they do so with a responsible approach that puts safety first,” he said. “By doing that, parents keep their kids from taking unnecessary risks and prevent injuries, illness and death.”
Outdoor sports, such as scuba diving and bicycling, are good places to be outdoors and offer a good workout, but they are not without risks, according to Nussenzweig.
Physical and mental health benefits of going for a walk or workout outdoors while wearing a helmet, helmet pads and protective clothing are well known, he said.
But others have even higher rates of injury, according to Nussenzweig.
A study in Environmental Health Perspectives recently found that one in 10 adults die from injuries from mountain biking.
The report looked at data from more than 50,000 injuries, including 41,307 accidents in 2010, the most recent year for which data were available. Of these, 9.5 percent of the accidents were fatal, and most of these accidents were linked to motorbike crashes.
Also, according to the study, bicycling has the highest percentage of injuries of any type of sport.
While the study examined all injuries, Nussenzweig said that people should be especially careful with some different activities, such as surfing and horseback riding.
“The number of injuries can vary greatly from state to state, and can range from a few dozen to hundreds in a state,” he said.
People don’t always get a second chance to prevent a fall, but they can be proactive in other ways, the CDC advises.
Outdoor sports and activities have similar risks as many other activities, but they are not going to include an astronaut or a rock climber.
“Sometimes we worry about the ‘risk’ of jumping off the roof, or riding a bike with a helmet, but the ‘risk’ of doing these activities is actually almost always small in comparison to other types of safe outdoor activities,” Nussenzweig said.
Also, while Americans have become healthier over the past three decades, they still have high rates of injuries.
Nussenzweig said that more than a third of the U.S. population has at least one job that requires physical labor and about the same percentage has spent at least 10 hours a week in the past year outside the home.
“I would say about a third of the population is exposed to dangerous conditions nearly every day they are out of the home,” he said.
“There are some things you can do that make a difference in your risk to injury,” he said. “Starting with taking appropriate precautions and making smart decisions, using a helmet, doing fitness as an activity or simply having a place to keep safety gear.”