Every year, tens of thousands of men and women die from accidents or unintentional injuries in the U.S. and millions visit the emergency room for such injuries. Fortunately, many of these events can be prevented if you take certain precautions.
Most of us feel safest and most comfortable at home, but hidden hazards sometimes exist that can trigger accidents. To prevent accidents at home, refer to the following checklist:
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector outside all bedrooms; test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year;
- Store all household cleaners and other chemicals in their original containers in a securely closed, preferably locked, cabinet—and use them only as directed;
- Be sure stairways have sturdy handrails, are well lit and free of objects that someone could trip over;
- Turn down your water heater’s thermostat to 120º F or lower, to prevent scalds;
- Install screens in front of fireplaces and wood stoves and have your furnace and other fuel-burning appliances inspected annually;
- Place nonskid mats in bathtubs and showers, install grab bars, and keep a nightlight on in the bathroom;
- Turn the handles on pots and pans toward the back of the stove while cooking and keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen;
- Post emergency numbers, including the poison control number, by each phone.
On the Road
Whether you’re a passenger or driver, wearing a seatbelt can reduce your chance of being injured—and save your life. It’s also the law. New York State is a “primary enforcement state,” meaning a police officer can write you a ticket for no other reason than not wearing your seatbelt. To learn more about seatbelt safety and New York State’s seatbelt law, click here.
In addition to wearing your seatbelt, the following safety measures can help protect you on the road:
- Maintain an appropriate speed that’s within the speed limit (keep in mind that driving too slowly can increase the likelihood of a collision, too);
- Avoid driving when you’re sleepy and never drive if you’re under the influence of alcohol or sedating drugs;
- Respect the rules of the road, including keeping a safe following distance and heeding the right of way when appropriate;
- Stay alert to erratic or impaired drivers; if you notice a car is weaving, stopping abruptly, or making other inappropriate movements, pull over or turn at the nearest intersection to get away from it.
- Do not use distracting devices, such as cell phones and PDA’s, and limit other distracting activities, including eating, applying makeup and talking to passengers.
Out and About
Accidents can occur when you’re on foot or a bicycle, too. The simplest of instructions still apply: it’s essential to obey traffic rules, look both ways when you’re crossing streets, and make sure you can be easily seen by passing cars.
When riding a bike, be sure to wear a helmet that fits properly; if you’re skating, skiing or skateboarding, wear a helmet and other protective equipment, such as kneepads, elbow pads and write guards.