Ask Dr. Pat

Dr. Pat Consults: Preventing the Perils of Summer

Boating, Swimming and Biking
Baxter Allen, M.D.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 560 people were killed and 2,620 were injured in the more than 4,000 boating accidents that occurred in 2013. Drowning was the cause of 398 of the deaths, and 328 of these drowning victims were not wearing a life vest.

Whenever you go boating, always be prepared with enough personal floatation devices for each person on board. Don’t try to squeeze an extra person on board, as capsizing and falls overboard are the root cause in more than half of boating fatalities.

Make sure to thoroughly inspect your boat, and always have a working VHF radio in case of emergency.

Take a safety course. Forty-one states require at least some training before a person operates a vessel.

Don’t go boating in bad weather.

Always stay hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol. According to the Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 21 percent of the deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Water Safety: Thousands of Americans drown each year. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children age 14 and under. Follow these common-sense precautions for safe summer fun in the water:

  • Always have an adult closely supervise young children any time they are swimming, playing or even bathing in water.
  • Never swim alone or in unsupervised locations. Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.
  • Never drink alcohol before or while swimming or while supervising children.
  • Learn to swim.
  • Properly maintain your pool to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Never swallow pool, lake or river water.

Biking has a significantly positive impact on health, despite the risks posed from other vehicles on the road. While the risk of injury or death is higher from bicycling than any other form of ground travel except for motorcycles, multiple studies have shown that its benefits to overall health exceedingly outweigh these risks.

Despite some recent media reports to the contrary, wearing a helmet leads to a significant reduction in the risk of head injury (60 percent), brain injury (50 percent) and death (80 percent).

More people bike during the warm summer months than during the winter, so it should be no surprise that the average number of deaths per day for bicyclists is significantly higher during the summer, peaking at roughly three deaths per day from July through September.


Anetta Reszko, M.D. Ph.D., is a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon; director of New York Skin Institute and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College; and an Assistant Attending Dermatology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Reszko is a board certified dermatologist and a fellow of American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery, and American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. She has published over 20 scientific research articles, reviews and book chapters. Her clinical practice in Manhattan is focused on early skin cancer detection and treatment, laser surgery.  

Jason S. Kendler, M.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He is a gradulate of Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed his post-graduate training at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he served as Chief Medical Resident. Dr. Kendler is now Course Director for Medicine, Patients and Society 2, a course for second year medical students at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He maintains an active practice in Internal Medicine in Manhattan and has a special interest in travel medicine.

Dr. Baxter B. Allen is Chief Resident in the Department of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital. He received his B.S. at the University of Michigan and his M.D. at Weill Cornell Medical College.

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  • Diane Dettmann July 6, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks so much, Dr. Pat for the helpful reminders. Living in rural Minnesota, deer ticks are a daily concern when working in the garden or walking in the woods. Knowing what to watch for really helps!

  • Roz Warren July 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Terrific advice! Thanks.