According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 people suffer from accidental injuries each year, while the World Health Organization says 5% of individuals die from their injuries – many of which can be avoided.
The most common types of accidental injuries include those caused by slips, trips or falls, motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle-related accidents, blunt force trauma, work-related accidents, chemical-related accidents, household accidents, food poisoning, and drug overdoses. As mentioned, many of these types of injuries can be prevented; as such, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, says patients should always familiarize themselves with risks and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
In order to keep you and your family safe, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends taking the following safety precautions:
• Ensure all safety devices in your home and business are working properly – including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers. If you do not have these safety devices, it’s crucial that you get them.
• Maintain all heating equipment and have things like furnaces serviced each year. If you have a portable heater, make sure they are not plugged in while you are sleeping.
• Plan a fire escape route and make sure each family is aware of it.
• Always wear seatbelts when travelling in a vehicle. Young children should be in car seats, and should also always be seated in the rear of the vehicle.
• Always read food labels – especially if you or your child has known allergies. Many foods may be cross-contaminated with certain things you are allergic to, such as peanuts, and a peanut allergy can be a matter of life or death for many individuals as it’s considered a common allergen. If you do have known allergies, it’s important to have allergy medication nearby – such as Benadryl or epinephrine.
• Medication labels should also be read carefully. It’s important to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. Some medications may cause drowsiness; therefore you should avoid things like driving and operating heavy machinery. There may also be interactions between different medications, and the effects of those interactions can range from mild to severe. Always check with your pharmacist to make sure there are no serious interactions involved with any medications you’ve been prescribed; and, of course, keep all medications stored in a safe, secure place that is out of reach from children.
• Wear appropriate safety equipment at work. For example, if you are in construction or another similar or related industry, workers are often required to wear things like reflective vests, glasses and hardhats – which can help you avoid things like eye and brain injuries.
While you may never think that any of the aforementioned injuries could happen to you, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In the event that an injury does occur, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it’s important to know some basic first aid. He also recommends having multiple first-aid kids – one at home, one at work, and one in your vehicle – as you never know when you might need it. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of emergency contacts on hand. Those listed should include the names and numbers of other family members, your healthcare providers (such as your family physician), as well as numbers for poison control.