June Is National Safety Month

Safety is an issue that is present in almost every aspect of life. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we are constantly making decisions that can directly impact our own safety, and/or the safety of those around us. The National Safety Council has chosen five primary areas of focus for this year’s National Safety Month:

  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Awareness of your surroundings
  • Distracted driving
  • Summer safety

[The following statistics come from the sources listed below.]

Did you know that almost 15,000 people die each year as a result of overdoses involving prescription painkillers? In 2010, almost 12 million Americans reported non-medical use of prescription painkillers (i.e., using them without a prescription and/or for the feeling that they cause) within the previous 12 months. Painkiller misuse has been described as an epidemic that reaches all across the nation.

Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury, resulting in almost 9 million emergency room visits per year in America. Falls are also the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death in homes and communities, resulting in more than 25,000 deaths in 2009. The risk for falls increases with age: the number of deaths from falls among individuals 65 years and older is four (4) times that of other age groups. Many falls can be prevented through thoughtful action and awareness of our surroundings.

In 2009, 5,474 people died in motor vehicle accidents that were reported to involve distracted driving. Of those, 18% died in accidents where cell phone use was identified as the distraction. Of all drivers younger than 20 who were involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents, 16% were reported to be distracted while driving. If you have a teenager or young adult in your life, or have even casually observed one in public, you likely have some sense of just how constant their use of cell phones and other electronic gadgets can sometimes be… but don’t assume that it’s only young people who are injured or killed as a result of being distracted. In 2009, of the drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents, those in the 30-39 year-old group had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement.

Incidence of injury tends to increase during the summer months, as people get outside more, and engage in a wider range of activities. Whether you’re engaging in outdoor sports, farming, gardening, or working on those never-ending home improvement projects, there are many opportunities for injury. Again, however, thoughtful action and awareness of our surroundings can often help prevent accidents and injuries commonly associated with summer activities.

The National Safety Council (NSC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Occupational and Safety Heath Administration (OSHA) offer a wealth of helpful fact sheets and other information related to safety risks. I’ve listed some of their webpages below, and I encourage you to check them out, and learn more about risks and also about things that we can all do to try to reduce the odds of accidents and injuries. If clicking on a link doesn’t work, copy it and paste it into your browsers web address line.

Stay safe and enjoy your summer,

Terry Sterry, Ph.D.


Home Safety Checklist – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/NatlSftyMonth/Home-Safety-Checklist.pdf(link is external)

Unintentional Drug Overdose – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Pages/UnintentionalOverdoses.aspx(link is external)

Prescription Painkiller Overdose – CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/painkilleroverdoses/(link is external)

Prescription Painkiller Overdose – CDC-2: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/index.html(link is external)

Slips, Trips, and Falls – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/Pages/Falls.aspx(link is external)

Fall-Proofing Tips – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/Documents/Fall%20Proofing%20Your%20Home_FINAL.pdf(link is external)

Fall Prevention Tips – OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html(link is external)

Fall Prevention Tips – CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls/(link is external)

Construction Safety Tips: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/index.html(link is external)

Distracted Driving Research and Statistics – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DistractedDrivingResearchandStatistics.aspx(link is external)

Distracted Driving – Multitasking – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/The-Great-Multitasking-Lie.aspx(link is external)

Summer Safety – NSC: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/SafetyObservances/Pages/SummerSafety.aspx(link is external)

Child Injury Prevention Tips – CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/?s_cid=childinjury_01