Did you know that unintentional injuries are the third most common cause of death among American men? While the numbers are small compared with heart disease and cancer, accidental injuries cause more than 6 percent of male deaths each year.
What exactly is classified as an unintentional injury? Any injury that isn’t intentionally self-inflicted to cause harm, including those caused by car accidents, falls and poisonings.
Fortunately, in many cases, these injuries can be prevented. Check out these tips on reducing your risk.
Stay safe on the road
If you’ve driven much on Tennessee interstates, you’ve seen TDOT signs listing the current number of motor vehicle deaths for the year. It’s a sobering number — more than 400 motor vehicle deaths had already occurred in 2016 by early June.
While you can’t control the actions of the drivers around you, you can make sure you’re driving safely. Here are a few do’s and don’ts:
- Do wear your seatbelt.
- Do follow traffic laws and drive the speed limit.
- Don’t drive if you’re drowsy.
- Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol, sedating medications or illegal drugs.
- Don’t be a distracted driver.
Not sure what constitutes distracted driving? Distracted driving is any activity that diverts your attention away from driving, even if just for a moment, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Talking with passengers or on the phone
- Adjusting the radio or GPS
Stay safe on your feet
Falls are a common cause of unintentional injury death, particularly among those age 65 and older. Fall prevention is about more than just watching your step. Try these strategies:
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether your medications make you more likely to fall.
- Include balance exercises in your workout regimen.
- Wear shoes with nonskid soles, especially when outside the home.
- Look around your home and move items that could potentially trip you, including electrical cords and loose rugs.
- Make sure your home is well-lit at night, particularly in the area between your bedroom and bathroom.
Stay safe from poisoning
Poisoning is the largest cause of unintentional injury death. While the word “poisoning” may bring to mind the ingestion of something poisonous, other exposure to hazardous chemicals, including breathing in dangerous fumes, can cause poisoning as well.
- When cleaning using chemicals, make sure your home is well-ventilated.
- Never mix household products together — doing so can result in the release of toxic gases.
- Wear protective clothing over exposed skin when spraying pesticides.
- Keep chemicals in their original packaging.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, check its batteries and replace it as directed.
- Have all gas-burning appliances serviced each year to ensure they’re working properly and not leaking.
- Only take medications prescribed to you, for the illness or injury for which they were prescribed.
- Make sure to understand the maximum dosages of over-the-counter and prescription medications — and don’t exceed them.
- Follow the directions given with medications, particularly those related to alcohol consumption.
In the case of an emergency, you can depend on UT Erlanger Health. The region’s only Level I trauma center offers comprehensive emergency care. If you believe you’re experiencing an emergency, call 911.