NEW ORLEANS – Mardi Gras season is in full swing as more than a million people arrive in the New Orleans within the week for Fat Tuesday, March 4. Add alcohol, parade throws and moving vehicles to the mix of large crowds and it could be a recipe for disaster during carnival time if you don’t take the proper precautions.

“Numerous injuries can occur during carnival season,” says Dr. Joseph Guarisco, System Chairman, Emergency Services, Ochsner Health System. “You should be aware of your surroundings when driving or walking near parades or in parade traffic to avoid being hit by a float or other vehicle. Respect parade barricades and do not climb over them,” Dr. Guarisco explains. “They’re meant to protect you since floats can be especially dangerous as it’s impossible for drivers to see everything around these barricades. Also, it is your responsibility to avoid running in between floats while chasing for beads and throws; and reach under a float for a throw, even when the float is not moving.”

It’s also important to be alert for beads, doubloons and other trinkets being thrown during parades. Many injuries occur from being hit in the eye or head by throws. It is our most common injury that we see. Parade-goers also need to keep things in perspective. “One really nice bead is not worth getting injured and ending up in the Emergency Room, so don’t fight over throws,” says Dr. Guarisco. Additionally, if throws end up on the ground and you want to pick them up, put your foot on them first, and then reach for them to avoid having your hand stepped on by someone.

Take caution when carrying someone on your shoulders or when using elevated ladder stands. The risk for falls during parades is high due to so many people trying to move around in such a small area.

Another potential danger that some may not think about is the sun. “Due to unpredictable weather in Louisiana, use sunscreen if you plan to be outdoors all day,” says Dr. Guarisco. “Sunglasses will protect your eyes not only from the sun, but also from being hit by throws.”

Last, be sure to keep beads and trinkets out of reach of children. These can easily pose a choking or suffocation hazard to kids whose parents turn their attention away even briefly.

“Although we hope visitors will have a safe and enjoyable experience this carnival season, we’re ready should someone need emergency medical care,” says Dr. Guarisco.

For Ochsner ER locations and wait times, visit www.ochsner.org/emergency.

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Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by nine hospitals, both owned and managed, and more than 40 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 18 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across eight specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 14,000 employees, over 900 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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