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Outdoor recreation in Utah trauma intermountain
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Top tips for a trauma-free holiday weekend from Intermountain Healthcare

(Photo Credit: John Wojcik)

SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials expect Utah residents to flock to the outdoors for the holiday weekend, but at Intermountain Healthcare, they urge those residents to do so without trauma. 

Intermountain Healthcare: Avoid trauma this weekend

The message to stay safe comes as Intermountain Healthcare hospitals have seen nearly a 10%  increase in trauma-related accidents this year. Jason Kitchen, a resident of Lehi, suffered injuries in a serious mountain biking accident last month in southern Utah. 

“I severed my femoral artery, my femoral nerve, and one of the main veins that runs down my leg, and that is why I lost so much blood,” Kitchen said. 

Kitchen sustained a serious laceration to his inner thigh and a nearby, off-duty St. George Police dispatcher is being credited with saving his life until paramedics could arrive.

“After the surgery is when I learned how lucky I was to one have a life and two have a leg,” Kitchen said. 

This upcoming weekend, officials are stressing the importance of having proper safety equipment and sharing your specific plans with family and friends. Additionally, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the most effective way to prevent mishaps in outdoor recreation is to adequately prepare for the trip.

Tips to stay safe during outdoor recreation in Utah 

Travel with a companion 

Just in case of an emergency, you never want to travel by yourself. Also, you should leave a copy of your itinerary with someone who isn’t traveling with you just in case you don’t come back when anticipated. You should also know ahead of time the location of the nearest telephone or ranger station in case an emergency occurs on your trip.

Consider your physical condition

If you’re planning a strenuous trip, make sure you can handle that physical activity. Discuss your plans with your health care provider, especially if you have any medical conditions, and get approval before departing. Make sure you have the skills you need for your camping or hiking adventure. 

Be weather-wise

In Utah, we all know the weather can change on a dime. Check the forecast before you go. Know the signs for approaching storms or changing weather conditions. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during lightning storms. Find shelter in a densely forested area at a lower elevation. Even in the summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermia.

Check your equipment 

This includes bringing and wearing the appropriate clothing for your outdoor recreation. Keep your equipment in good working order and inspect it before your trip. Do not wait until you are at the trailhead because at that point it could be too late. Be sure to pack emergency signaling devices.

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