Nearly 150,000 people in the United States died from accidental deaths in 2015, and many of these tragedies happened in the home. Today, unintentional injury-related deaths are an all-time high, according to the National Safety Council. In the home, the accidents include poisonings from prescriptions drugs, falls, drownings, and burns, among others.
For the month of June, during “National Home Safety Month,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles is focusing on proper safety precautions you can take to avoid common accidents and injuries, and make sure you and your families are as safe as possible while at home.
While more and more people are being put on prescription pain medications to be treated for injuries, we are also seeing an increase in the amount of people who suffer or die because of accidental drug overdoses.
In 2011, poisonings overtook motor vehicle crashes for the first time as the leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death for all ages combined. In fact, about 2.2 million people calling poison control every single year, and more than 90 percent of all poisonings happen at home. Tragically, every day, 52 people die because of opioids.
For tips on finding where the dangers lurk at home, visit the National Safety Council’s website. And if you need help, call the National Poison Control Center number at (800) 222-1222.
According to Injury Facts, falls are the No.1 cause of injury-related deaths among individuals who are age 65 and older. Approximately 9,500 elderly Americans will fall this year, and among those who fracture a bone, 87 percent of them will fall again within the next 6 months. However, these falls are preventable. Here are some tips, courtesy of “Stand Up to Falls”.
- Eliminate tripping hazards.
- Electrical and phone cords should be secured in a non-walking area. All cabinets should be closed when they are not being used.
- If there is spilled water or drinks in the house, make sure they are cleaned.
- Finally, make sure you’re not carrying anything heavier than you are able to carry. Have someone help you with heavy items, or take more than one trip for multiple items, like groceries.
For more tips, visit the National Safety Council website.
Choking and Suffocation
Suffocation is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death over all age groups, and choking on food or other objects is a primary cause. Suffocation is also the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for people 87 and older.
If a person is coughing forcefully, encourage continued coughing to clear the object. A person who can’t cough, speak or breathe, however, needs immediate help. Ask if they are choking and let them know you will use abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, to prevent suffocation. Learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver by clicking here.
If the victim is or becomes unresponsive, lower the person to the ground, expose the chest and start CPR.
Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for infants, who require a different rescue procedure than adults. Clear the airway, and do the following only if the infant cannot cry, cough or breathe
About 10 people drown every day, and drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. It’s also the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, mostly due to children falling into pools or being left alone in bathtubs.
Fortunately, there are several tips available for children and adults to prevent these tragedies.
- Always watch your child while he or she is bathing, swimming or around water
- Gather everything needed (towel, bath toys and sunscreen) before the child enters the water; if you must leave the area, take the child with you.
- Do not allow your child to play or swim in canals or streams
- Install a fence with self-closing gate latches around your pool or hot tub
- Consider installing door alarms to alert adults when a child has unexpectedly opened a door leading to a pool or hot tub
- Keep a phone and life preserver near the pool or hot tub in case of emergency
- Use snug-fitting life jackets instead of floaties, but remember that a child can still drown with a life jacket on if not carefully watched
- Always swim with a buddy
- Never swim if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken certain medications
- Wear a life jacket
- Swim in designated areas with lifeguards
Fires and Burns
Fire is the sixth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. Often, fires start at night, when family members are asleep. A working smoke alarm will cut the chances of dying in a fire in half.
The National Safety Council provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
- Install smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Plan and practice an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home
- Know two ways out of every room in the home
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else
The U.S. Fire Administration offers these additional tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:
- Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters and stove-tops
- Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
- Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you
For more ways to stay safe and protected from home emergencies, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to home safety.
— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident due to the fault of someone else, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.