Changing our future: injury and violence prevention

Nearly 200,000 people in the United States die each year from injuries and violence (National Public Health Week). This includes unintentional injuries as well as those caused in fights, abuse, and similar situations. In fact, injuries and violence are the number one cause of death for all people ages 1 to 44. National Public Health Week offers this additional fact:

For every injury death, 13 people are hospitalized and 135 get treated in an emergency room. The cost: $671 billion annually.

That’s a huge amount of money Americans are spending on preventable injuries. Accidents happen, but we increase our risk of injury when we put ourselves in hazardous situations. photo photo

Consider these statistics provided by National Public Health Week:

  • Opioid overdoses kill about 115 people every day.
  • Deaths in motor vehicle accidents exceeded 37,000 in 2016. That’s up more than 5 percent from the previous year.
  • The rate of fatal accidents in which people were not wearing seat belts rose 4.6 percent from 2015 to 2016.
  • Pedestrian deaths are on the rise, too, up 9 percent in 2016 over the prior year.
  • One older adult falls every second in this country.
  • Deaths on the job — across all jobs — reached nearly 5,200 in 2016, up 7 percent from 2015.
  • An average of 96 people are shot and killed daily in the United States. Seven of those are children or teenagers.
  • About 1.1 million domestic violence incidents were reported in 2016.
  • An average 1:6 women in American have been raped or a victim of attempted rape.
  • Child protective services received 683,000 reports of child abuse or neglect in 2015.

What can you do?

In light of these staggering statistics, what can we do here in Lake County to make a difference?

Get pain help. With guidance from your primary care provider, explore alternatives to painkillers. Lake Health District offers Back to Health, a yoga class designed to ease lower back pain. The health district also offers a class that addresses lasting pain. Call Janine Simms at (541) 947-2114 ext. 436 to learn more about Chronic Pain Self-Management.

Buckle up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says seat belts are one of the most effective ways to save lives and prevent injuries in automobile accidents. photo photo

Look up. Our phones are an essential part of our lives now, but they also contribute to distracted walking accidents. Put your phone down while you’re walking around. Smile at your neighbors. Enjoy the beautiful community we live in. Watch where you’re headed and prevent injuring yourself or someone else.

Don’t text and drive. Cellphone addiction is a real thing, and it makes many of us reach for our phones to check and send text messages, update our social media accounts, or send emails even behind the wheel. But distracted driving killed nearly 3,500 people in 2015 (NHTSA). Another 391,000 were injured. That text and Twitter update can wait. Keep your eyes on the road and keep yourself — and other drivers — safe.

Prevent falls. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that falls are the number one cause of injury for people age 65 and older. They can lead to hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Falls can also lead to isolation and depression; people may fear going out because they’re unsure of their ability to stay on their feet. Falls are often preventable, which is why NCOA offers six tips for preventing falls.

Prevent sexual violence. Unsure what constitutes sexual violence? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these definitions to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to this subject. The CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention offers this resource to prevent sexual violence. More resources are available locally from the Lake County Crisis Center. Call them at 541-947-2498 to learn more. If you are in a crisis situation, call the crisis line at (541) 947-2449.

Prevent child abuse and neglect. Children are among the most vulnerable members of our community, but we can create a culture that values and protects them. The CDC has resources available to recognize signs of abuse and neglect. The agency’s Essentials for Childhood Framework covers ways to create safe, stable, and nurturing communities to help children grow up happy, healthy, and loved.

Wear a helmet. Lake District Hospital's Abby Finetti has bike helmets available for those who need them. Call her at (541) 947-2114 ext. 386 and get fitted for one today. photo photo

Be responsible. Guns are part of life in Lake County, but that doesn't mean they don't require responsibility. Make sure to keep guns locked up and away from kids to keep everyone safe, and practice safe shooting.