People underestimate the risks of summertime athletic activities and gardening[Dagmar Gilden | 28.04]
Estonians are active if a little absent-minded and the arrival of warm summer weather marks the start of the annual peak season of accidents. In recent years, recreational athletes, cyclists and scooter enthusiasts have topped the accident board.
According to Dagmar Gilden, Product Manager of Seesam’s Personal Accidents, the first sign of sun in spring marks the start of the annual accident season. “Starting from March, the share of accidents continues to increase month by month, peaking in July when people are on vacation and enjoy being outdoors and away from their daily routine,” says Gilden. Based on insurance statistics, the number of claims for damages increased by 20% from May to June last year, with claims jumping by another 38% in July (compared with June).
At the top of the claims list we can see injuries sustained through sports or active recreation accounting for almost 40% of cases. Falling from a bike or scooter comes in at a close second. Such falls make up more than a quarter of all accident claims.
Team sports cause the most accidents among people who are enjoying outdoor activities in nice weather. “In winter, we tend to see accidents related to winter sports; in spring and summer, people love taking part in ball games. Almost a third of all accidents that happen during active recreation are connected to team sports such as football, basketball, etc. Accidents are common on fields and courts as well as when playing ball at home.”
In addition to athletic Estonians, gardening enthusiasts also stand out on the accident score board. People with a green thumb are eager to take out their cutters, saws and hatchets as soon as the snow is gone. Strained muscles, dislocated joints, cuts, bruises, broken bones and contusions are the main springtime injuries that people report to the insurance undertaking. There have also been some unfortunate incidents where a person has stepped on a cat when retrieving firewood and fallen down. People also fall in greenhouses and injure their eyes when cleaning up under shrubs.
Gardening injuries are often very serious and can force a person to take a long break.
Expert advice before commencing any gardening work is to make sure all your tools are safe and in pristine condition. The use of personal protective equipment is also something not to be taken lightly. “Even with simple tasks, it’s a good idea to put on safety goggles because you can never be too sure – we see cases where people get something in their eye when mowing grass or sustain injuries to the entire face when cleaning under shrubs. I can even recall a case from last year when a gardening enthusiast ended up getting patio cleaning fluid splashed in their eye,” says Gilden to highlight some cases.
Accidents, however, will happen and there is no way to prevent them all. What you can do is make sure you are focused on the task at hand and use safety equipment.
“Every year, we see an unfortunate number of cases where people fall from their bikes or scooters and end up dragging themselves on the road for several metres causing their skin to become raw and sore. You should always use safety equipment when going out on your scooter or skateboard; in fact, you should even wear a helmet on an e-scooter because driving at 15 km/h is fast enough to cause dangerous injuries, especially in light summer clothing. Keep in mind that persons under the age of 16 using a personal light electric vehicle are required to have the right to drive and this includes the requirement to wear a helmet,” says Gilden, drawing attention to safety equipment.
It is good to remember that safety equipment for bikes includes a flashing white light on the front and a red light at the rear of the bike for low light circumstances as well as a yellow or white reflector on both sides of the bike. Helmets are not mandatory in Estonia, but this handy piece of headgear can save a life, so cyclists of all ages should reserve a place for a helmet.