Safety is no accident: Live injury-free
By William Gerrish - State Dept. of Public Health
Feature Article - posted Fri., Mar. 25, 2011
Every year, about 1,600 Connecticut residents die from injuries. In fact, injuries are the leading cause of death in our state for residents between the ages of 1 and 44, and the fifth leading cause for all ages. Injuries are also responsible for approximately 18,800 inpatient hospital stays and 377,500 emergency room visits each year in Connecticut.
Chances are good that you or someone you know are among these statistics – a friend who suffered a fatal injury from a car crash, an older family member who broke a hip during a fall, or a co-worker harmed on the job site. Many of these injuries could have been prevented.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 percent of the potential years of life lost in Connecticut are because of injuries that could have been prevented. What’s more, in Connecticut, hospitalizations due to injuries result in more than $500 million in direct hospital costs each year. These costs do not include the costs associated with long-term care, rehabilitation, or for injuries treated in emergency departments, doctor’s offices or other locations.
These statistics illustrate a real and growing public health concern. Fortunately, we know that many injuries can be prevented. Seat belts, properly installed and used child safety seats, and bicycle and motorcycle helmets can prevent or reduce the severity of motor vehicle crash injuries.
Did you know, for example, that two-thirds of children killed by bicycle-related injuries could have been saved by wearing a helmet, which can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 88 percent?
Parents can make a major difference in preventing the leading cause of death for teens by monitoring their teen’s driving, and enforcing Connecticut’s teen driving laws, which include restrictions on two of the most risky situations for young drivers: night driving and driving with other teen passengers.
Safe storage and use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, cleaners and other household chemicals can reduce poisonings. Installing and maintaining smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can greatly reduce the risk of dying in a fire or suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. Older adults can reduce their risk of falling by starting a regular exercise program to increase balance and strength, and consulting with their health care provider to get medications reviewed for possible interactions that could increase their risk of falling.
These are just a few of actions you can take to reduce your risk of a serious injury. During National Public Health Week, April 4-10, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is encouraging all residents to take steps to make Connecticut a healthier, safer place to live, play, work and raise a family.
Take a moment and make just one positive change a day that could prevent an injury. These seemingly small actions can have a big impact when they’re spread throughout an entire family, community, and state. And they could save you or your loved one’s life. For more information, please visit www.ct.gov/dph.