Most Injuries are Preventable
Most injuries for which people present to the Emergency Room (ER) are preventable. Tips to prevent falls, drowning and accidental poisoning are discussed below.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 800,000 people are treated in the ER for fall injuries each year, most commonly for hip fractures or head injuries. One out of five falls result in serious injuries like broken bones and head injuries.
Every year, 2.8 million older people (65 and older) are treated in the ER due to fall-related injuries. At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized each year for hip fractures; 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling.
The medical cost of fall injuries is $31 billion annually, with ER costs accounting for two thirds of that amount.
Fall Prevention Tips
There are simple steps you can take to prevent yourself from falling.
Talk to Your Doctor
- Speak with your doctor to determine your risk of falling and what steps you can take to prevent falling.
- Review with your doctor both your prescribed and over-the-counter medications to determine whether any of them may cause you to feel tired or dizzy.
- Ask whether taking vitamin D supplements would be helpful.
Do Strength and Balance Exercises
- Perform exercises that will improve your balance and increase your leg strength, such as Tai Chi or yoga.
Have Your Eyes Checked
- Have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor and update your eyeglasses' prescription strength as needed.
- Consider getting a pair of distance glasses for outdoor activities like walking if you use progressive lenses or bifocals. Progressive and bifocal lenses can sometimes make objects seem closer or further than they actually are.
Make Your Home Safer
- Remove or put away objects that could make you trip.
- Have grab bars installed both inside and outside your shower or tub, as well as next to the toilet.
- Make sure all flights of stairs have railings on both sides of the stairs.
- Ensure your home is bright enough for you to walk and see safely; add more lights or brighter light bulbs if needed.
An average of 3,536 fatal accidental drownings occur in the US each year (excluding boat-related drownings), or about 10 deaths a day (CDC). Boat-related accidents account for another 332 drowning deaths each year. Children 14 and younger account for one in five people who die from drowning; for every one child who dies from drowning, another five need ER care for nonfatal injuries.
More than half the people treated in the ER for drowning require hospitalization or transfer to another facility, compared to a hospitalization rate of 6 percent for all other unintentional injuries. Nonfatal drownings can cause severe brain damage like memory loss and learning disabilities, or even a permanent vegetative state.
Drowning Prevention Tips
- Adults should supervise young children when they are in the bath, and supervise all children who are swimming or playing in water.
- Have a swim buddy when swimming, and swim where a lifeguard is present if possible.
- Individuals with seizure disorders should have one-on-one supervision around water.
- Learn how to swim. Giving young children formal swimming lessons may prevent them from drowning in the future.
- Learn CPR, which can save a life while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
- Use life jackets as safety devices; toys like water wings and noodles are not safety devices.
- Do not drink alcohol when participating in water activities or while supervising children.
- Don't let swimmers hold their breath under water for a long period of time, which could cause them to pass out and drown.
- Know the local weather forecast before swimming or boating. Thunderstorms with lightning can be deadly.
All-Terrain Vehicle Safety
ATV (all-terrain vehicles) are motorized vehicles that can weigh up to 600 pounds and reach high speeds of more than 60mph. When ridden incorrectly ATV crashes can cause injury and even death. Follow these rules to stay safe:
- Do not carry passengers. Most ATVs are designed for one person
- Do not ride on public roads
- Do not ride at night
- Do not allow children under the age of 16 to ride. They are at high risk for serious injuries and even death
- Do wear a helmet and eye protection
- Do wear closed toe shoes, long pants and long-sleeve shirt
- Do attend an ATV rider’s safety course. Call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887 for classes near you
Motor Vehicle Safety
Children and Motor vehicle safety
Motor vehicle injures are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented.
- Make sure Children are properly buckled in a car seat, booster seat or wearing a seat belt- whichever is appropriate for their weight, height, and age
- Seat children in the back seat
- Do not seat children in front of an airbag
- Seat children in the middle of the back seat when possible, since it is the safest spot in the vehicle
- Use proper restraints on every trip
Drivers and all passengers should always wear a seat belt. Safety belts are the single most effective safety device in preventing serious injury and death in motor vehicle crash.
Driving Distracted is anything that takes your attention away from driving. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can be deadly to the drivers, passengers and others.
- If you must send or read a text message, pull over to a safe location and park your car first
- If you cannot resist the temptation to look at your phone, keep it in the trunk.
Impaired Driving is driving a vehicle when alcohol, legal drugs or illegal drugs negatively affect your ability to do so.
- Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver.
- Don’t let your friends drive impaired
- If you have been drinking or using drugs, get a ride home or use a ride service