I spend most of my time writing about how to prepare for widespread natural and man-made disasters. Yet, frankly, I’m far more likely to be injured or killed in a fall or car crash.
In addition to preparing for unusual dangers, look around and prepare for “everyday disasters”. Here are some of the most common dangers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and ways to prepare for and prevent them.
Accidental poisoning was the leading cause of unintentional death and seventh leading cause of injury in 2015, according to the CDC.
I have a 12-year-old who must take daily laxatives for chronic constipation. Her laxative looks like a small chocolate bar, divided into segments. She takes one segment per day. Well, I left a brand new box out, and my 3-year-old ate the whole thing. Her diapers for the next few days were extraordinary, but fortunately the only risks were mild dehydration and diaper rash. Nevertheless, I now have the national poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, programmed in my phone. I also try to keep all my family’s medicines—especially gummy vitamins and laxatives—out of reach.
The CDC’s poisoning page has many more hints for ways to reduce your risk of accidental poisoning. WebPoisonControl is another tool to find information about swallowed poisons.
The second-highest cause of unintentional death and fourth leading cause of injury in 2015 was traffic accident. In 2015, more than 36,000 Americans were killed and 2.6 million injured in car accidents, according to the CDC. The rate of crash deaths in the U.S. is more than twice the average of other high-income countries, the CDC said.
Most traffic accidents are human-caused. Speeding was a factor in almost a third of crash deaths and drunk driving accounted for a third, according to the CDC.
Please always wear a seat belt and make sure children are buckled in the back seat, in an appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. Safecar.gov can tell you which is appropriate for your child.
Obey the speed limit. Don’t drive impaired by any illicit or legal substance. Remember Tiger Woods—even legal and over the counter medication can get you arrested for driving impaired. So can driving tired or distracted. Don’t use your phone.
And, for my husband who once destroyed his police car by smashing it into a 12-point buck, here are some ways to avoid hitting a deer with your car, from USA Today.
It’s easy to see why. A fall can happen anywhere at any age. My children have ended up in casts and with concussions from falling off playground equipment. Older people are especially prone to serious falls. Fall injuries cause the most injury deaths in people over 64 years old, according to the CDC.
No one can prevent falls. But you can reduce risk of them and damage from them. Consider putting floor mats, rugs and runners on areas where falls are most likely—but make sure they’re in good condition so they don’t become a fall hazard. Clean spills and keep cords out of the way. One study reported in CNN suggested a hearing aid could help with balance in those with hearing loss.
Even if you’re just stepping outside, carry a phone or other signaling device. Multiple people I know have stepped outside, slipped on icy surfaces and spent hours on freezing ground because they couldn’t contact anyone.
Especially now that it’s summer and people are out in the water, learn the signs of drowning. In 2015, drowning was the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1-4 and the second-leading cause in children 5-9.
The ten leading causes of unintentional injury and death from injury in 2015, according to the CDC, are listed below.
- Unintentional fall 9,369,406 *
- Unintentional struck by/against 4,060,294
- Unintentional overexertion 3,121,907 *
- Unintentional mv-occupant 2,624,934 *
- Unintentional cut/pierce 2,011,677
- Unintentional other specified 1,952,005
- Unintentional poisoning 1,482,121
- Other assault struck by/against 1,234,228
- Unintentional other bite/sting 1,187,459 *
- Unintentional unknown/unspecified 720,383
- Unintentional poisoning 47,480 *
- Unintentional mv traffic 36,161 *
- Unintentional fall 33,381 *
- Suicide firearm 22,018
- Homicide firearm 12,979
- Suicide suffocation 11,855
- Unintentional unspecified 6,930
- Unintentional suffocation 6,914 *
- Suicide poisoning 6,816
- Unintentional drowning 3,602 *