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Any seasoned Mardi Gras veteran knows that carnival time is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to hit all your favorite parades, it’s important to stay safe. Just in time for the biggest krewes to show their stuff, here’s five safety tips from Ochsner Health for avoiding some of the most common parade injuries.
1) Respect the boundaries
Parade barricades are meant to protect you from the floats, which can be especially dangerous as it’s impossible for drivers to see everything around these barricades. It is your responsibility to avoid running in between floats while chasing for beads and throws. If a band chaperone asks you to step back, make sure kids step back.
Meg Marino, MD – Pediatric Emergency Medicine Attending with Ochsner Hospital for Children – shares, “Kids like to get as close as possible to the floats, the bands, and the marching clubs because they’re colorful and exciting. It is important that kids keep a safe distance away to avoid being trampled by a float, horse or marching band.”
2) Protect Your Head
From getting hit in the head with a bag of beads to tripping and falling while walking on uneven ground, concussions are common around Mardi Gras.
Aaron Karlin, MD – director of the Ochsner Concussion Management Program – cautions,“Should you sustain a head injury during Carnival season, it is important to alert those celebrating with you of the injury, so they can monitor your overall mental and physical state and if necessary, help you maintain consciousness. If there is depression of consciousness, difficulty in maintaining alertness and/or other common concussion-related symptoms such as weakness, slurred speech, confusion, nausea and vomiting, light/sound sensitivity, or trouble maintaining balance, then an evaluation at an urgent care or emergency facility is encouraged.”
3) Watch out for your Eyes
There’s a lot flying around during parades – hands, beads, stuffed animals, toy spears, and much more. Be mindful of what’s in the air around you and cover your eyes if something is headed your way. Wear sunglasses during day parades to help prevent beads or other items from scratching your eyes.
Jeanne Herman, OD - an optometrist with Ochsner Medical Center – Jefferson Highway says, “Remember – if anything hits or penetrates your eyes, it’s important to seek medical attention. You only get one pair of eyes, so be sure you do everything you can to protect yours!”
4) Protect Your Ears
From the bands to the cheering crowds to the fire trucks, parades can be really, really loud. Kelly Jones, AuD - an audiologist with Ochsner Medical Center – Jefferson Highway – recommends, “You can reduce risk of hearing loss by wearing custom fit noise plugs or disposable foam plugs. If you’re bringing a little one to the parade, it’s recommended that you protect their hearing too with child sized earmuffs.”
5) Practice Ladder Safety
Last, but certainly not least, you want to be careful with those ladders. Be sure to check your ladder for any repairs it might need before you head out to the parade route. Make sure it’s level and stable when you set it up, and not tangled with someone else’s. Children in the ladder should be well-secured with a sturdy bar across the front.
“Parents should know that parade ladders can be dangerous. If you are going to put your child on a parade ladder, use common sense about the size of kids you allow into your ladder – a child who’s really too big can cause a ladder to tip over,” says Dr. Marino. “Our goal is to help families stay safe and healthy during Mardi Gras. It’s really about staying alert, so everyone has a good time.”
Stay safe this Mardi Gras season!