Most trauma injuries and deaths are preventable. The trauma professionals at North Kansas City Hospital want to help you avoid becoming a trauma statistic.
Use the advice provided here, from our trauma staff, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to avoid unsafe behaviors and environments and keep yourself and your family safe.
Distracted Driving Tips
Distracted drivers are responsible for 15 percent of fatal crashes and 20 percent of crash-related injuries, and the numbers continue to climb. Studies and accident data continue to prove that drivers using electronic devices are much more likely to be involved in a car accident than drivers who aren’t. Texting takes your eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Distractions also come from eating, drinking, reading, applying makeup, conversing with passengers, pets, children and the driver's own state of mind.
Passengers Can Help
As a passenger, you can help drivers stay focused:
- Be the navigator and help with map reading
- Answer the driver’s cell phone or texts
- Control temperature settings
- Help read signs
- Manage the needs of children and pets in the car
Driving in Bad Weather
- Drive with your headlights on in bad weather. If you have to turn on your windshield wipers, turn on your lights.
- Four-wheel drive won't help you stop any faster.
- Trucks take longer to stop. Don't cut in front of them.
- If pavement is wet, don't use cruise control.
- If you have antilock brakes, press down hard. If you don't have antilock brakes, gently pump your brakes.
Don't forget to stay safe while staying warm. Follow these tips for safe fireplace and wood stove use.
- Burn only seasoned hardwood—oak, ash or maples are best.
- Don’t burn trash. It can contain poisons or burn erratically.
- Have a professional inspect your chimney every year.
- Use a creosote log to reduce buildup of creosote. Purchase one approved by UL.
- Use glass doors or screens to prevent sparks from escaping.
- Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and test the batteries monthly.
- Use fireplace, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and won’t leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
- The most important thing a cyclist can do to prevent a head injury is to wear an approved helmet. It’s estimated that as many as 88 percent of bicycle-related head injuries could be avoided if people wore helmets.
- If you’ve been in an accident with any impact to your helmet, even if it looks OK, REPLACE IT. Fine cracks in its structure could make it unsafe in a future tumble.
- Don’t ride bicycles at dusk or in the dark. Regardless of the time of day, make sure your bicycle and your clothes have reflectors.
- Because bicyclists are difficult to spot, drivers should always look for them at intersections and make eye contact.
- Bicycles often look like they’re traveling faster than they are. Share the road and allow for a space cushion.
- Don’t honk at cyclists when coming up behind them. You may startle them and cause them to lose control.
Back to School Safety Tips
- When driving children to school, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible.
- Reduce any distractions inside the car so you can concentrate on the road. Put your cell phone away and don’t talk or text while driving.
- Don’t drive away after dropping them off until they are inside or with school staff.
- Remind children to use traffic signals when walking and to avoid using headphones or other devices that would distract them from their surroundings.
- Make sure your child walks to school with a sibling or friends. Never allow him or her to walk alone; there’s safety in numbers.
- Research your child’s route to school. Sexual offenders must be registered with the state and your local law enforcement agencies can tell you where they live.
- Make sure your child’s backpack has two padded straps and does not weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of his or her body weight.
- If your child stays home alone, tell him or her to keep the doors locked and not to let anyone in. Post a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone.
Hot Weather Safety
During a heat wave, it's important to be able to keep cool. The best defense against a heat-related illness is prevention. Here are some cool tips on a hot topic.
- Stay hydrated. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.
- Avoid alcohol and drinks containing lots of sugar. They can make you lose more body fluid.
- Avoid very cold drinks. They can cause stomach cramps.
- If you’re perspiring, try to drink one quart of liquid per hour. Sports drinks are fine.
- Keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge and give yourself a spritz when you're hot, starting on the wrists.
- In temperatures above 90 degrees, fans won't cool you. Go to a mall for a few hours or take a cool shower.
- Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes and cover your head and shoulders.
- During the heat of the day, eat light meals. Remember fruits and vegetables contain water.
- NEVER leave children (or pets) unattended in the car. Place your purse, briefcase, lunch, etc. in the back seat of your vehicle to remind you children are there.
Sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees F or hotter. That’s as hot as a blow torch or a charcoal fire in a grill—a temperature that can melt copper. Fireworks, such as bottle rockets and small firecrackers, may appear harmless because of their small size, but they send thousands of people to emergency rooms each year, particularly around the Fourth of July.
If you do decide to buy legal fireworks, be sure to take the following safety steps:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging. This can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Light one item at a time then move to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not gone off or functioned fully. Douse them with water.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks have gone off, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Know the risks. Prevent the tragedies and have an injury-free Fourth of July!
Tips to keep you safe during lawnmower season.
- Pick up twigs, stones and toys before mowing.
- Wear protective gloves, goggles and sturdy, closed-toed footwear.
- Remove debris from mower blades with a stick, not your hand.
- When mowing hills on a walk-behind mower, mow sideways. With a riding mower, mow left-to-right.
- Never give anyone a ride on a riding lawnmower.
Pool safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
- Practice Supervision
- Never take your eyes off children in the water—not for a minute! Always designate a “pool watcher.”
- Install Barriers
- CPSC strongly recommends that all residential pools have a 4-foot barrier, such as a fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. If the house is the fourth side of a barrier, secure doors with alarms that prevent children from wandering into the pool area.
- Avoid Entrapments
- Suction from a pool or spa’s drain can be so powerful it can trap an adult underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
- Know and Practice Water Safety Skills
- Learn how to swim and teach your children how to swim.
- Learn to perform CPR so you can help save a life if a water emergency happens.
- Understand the basics of lifesaving so you can assist in an emergency.
- More Tips
- Each year hundreds of children under age 15 drown in swimming pools and spas.
- Thousands go to hospital emergency rooms due to submersion injuries in pools and spas.
- Use pool alarms, covers and compliant drain covers and maintain them to protect those who use your pool.
- Keep lifesaving equipment, such as life rings and reaching poles, close at hand.
- Never swim alone.
- Know your limits. Even an experienced swimmer can feel cramps and fatigue.
- Use of personal watercraft has become the most dangerous part of boating. Don’t allow children under the age of 15 to drive them and always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Alcohol and water sports don’t mix. The CDC states that alcohol is a major factor in 50 percent of all teen and adult drowning.
- Know the depth of the water before diving. If it’s unfamiliar water or not clear, consider it shallow.
General Outdoor Safety
- According to the CDC, pedestrians age 65 and older have the highest pedestrian death rate. Be aware that older adults may have slower reflexes and vision problems as a function of age.
- When using the lawn mower, make sure the area you’re mowing is free of debris. Rocks and toys can become flying missiles and cause serious injuries.
- Hundreds of people are killed or injured by lightning each year. When thunder roars, go indoors!
- Many falls from ladders occur during the summer months. Make sure you place ladders on level surfaces, away from doorways and electrical wires.
Using common sense and being cautious when running outdoors can keep you from getting hurt or becoming a victim. Here are some tips:
- Be safe. Does someone know where you’ll be running? Try to stay off of the street or at least run against traffic so you can see cars coming at you.
- Be visible. Wear bright or white clothing and make sure you have reflective gear on. Don’t run alone at night no matter how comfortable you feel. There’s safety in numbers.
- Carry ID in your pocket, wear an ID tag on your shoe or carry a cell phone with your ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers saved. Carry some cash or an ATM card in case you need a ride home.
- Don’t make assumptions about drivers—many aren’t paying attention. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
- Watch out for other runners and call out which side you’ll be passing on.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, run the other direction.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions Handbook for Public Playground Safety provides tips for parents and caregivers, such as:
- Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children’s clothing and outerwear. Don’t let kids wear necklaces or scarves on the playground. These things can get caught and cause strangulation.
- Wear sunscreen and remember—the sun makes metal hot and a hot slide can burn skin!
- Kids should slide feet first, sitting up—never head first.
- Avoid playgrounds with asphalt, concrete, grass and dirt surfaces under playground equipment. Surfacing material such as shredded rubber, mulch, wood chips or sand are less likely to cause serious injury from a fall. The surfacing material should be 12 inches deep and extend 6 feet around all equipment.
- Make sure play areas allow you to see clearly where your children are playing at all times.
Have a home safety plan in place in case tornado strikes. One of the most important things you can do during tornado season is to be alert. Stay alert and you’ll stay alive.
- Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning and how your community alerts you to each. Sign up for weather alerts on your computer, phone and mobile devices.
- Have a predetermined place or “safe room” to go to during warnings. Cover your head with your arms and hands and your body with blankets or a coat.
- Have sturdy shoes, a flashlight and a radio with extra batteries ready to grab and go.
- Know how to turn off utilities—gas, electricity and water.
- Never strike a match until you’re sure there isn’t a gas leak.
- Beware of broken glass and live power lines lying on the ground.
- Your car is the most dangerous place to be in a tornado. Leave it and go to lower ground or a ditch. Lie down and cover your head. Hiding below an underpass isn’t any safer. You are still exposed to flying debris.
- Have a designated person in another town or city to be the “contact person” should you become separated from your family.
Let’s face it—emergencies can happen any day, any time. Use these tips to make sure healthcare providers can reach your designated contacts in case of emergency.
- Enter “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) numbers in your mobile phone under the name ICE. For multiple numbers, list them as ICE 1, ICE 2 etc.
- Make sure your contacts have agreed to be your ICE partners.
- List all numbers available to reach your ICE partner (home, mobile and work numbers).
- If you’re under 18, make sure your ICE partner is a parent or guardian authorized to make decisions for you.
- Attach ICE cards to children’s car seats. Children are most often removed from a damaged vehicle in their car seats. If you were in a crash and unconscious, emergency personnel would have numbers to reach a responsible party for your child.