Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages — and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. The good news is everyone can get involved to help prevent injuries. During National Safety Month, Boulder City Hospital encourages you to learn more about important safety issues like prescription painkiller abuse, transportation safety and slips, trips and falls.
Prescription painkiller abuse: Prescription painkiller overdoses are a growing problem in the United States, especially among women. About 18 women die every day from a prescription painkiller overdose — more than four times as many as back in 1999.
Transportation safety: Doing other activities while driving — like texting or eating — distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost one in five crashes (17 percent) that injured someone involved distracted driving.
Slips, trips, and falls: One in three older adults falls each year. Many falls lead to broken bones and other health problems.
You can make a difference. Below are ways to help reduce the risk of these safety issues.
n Use prescription painkillers only as directed by a health care provider.
n Make sure you are the only one to use you prescription painkillers. Not selling or sharing them with others helps prevent misuse and abuse.
n Store prescription painkillers in a secure place and dispose of them properly.
n Get help for substance abuse problems if needed (1-800-662-HELP).
n Avoid any kind of distracted driving. Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any nondriving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
■ Do not text while driving. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55 mph for the length of an entire football field.
■ Avoid talking on the phone while driving, even if you are using a hands-free device. So far, the research indicates that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help you avoid a crash.
■ Do exercises to improve your balance and leg strength.
■ Ask your doctor to review your medicines. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy.
■ Get your vision checked by an eye doctor at least every one to two years. Update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes.
■ Make your home safer. For example, add grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offers these safety tips from its Healthfinder site.
■ Know when to call 911.
■ Learn how to help someone who is choking.
■ Take a class to learn first aid and CPR.
■ Keep a first aid kit at home and in your car.
■ Use smoke alarms. Make and practice a fire escape plan for your home.
■ Store your medicines in a cool, dry place. Medicines can break down quickly in places that are damp and warm, like the kitchen or bathroom.
■ Keep medicines away from children and pets. A locked box, cabinet or closet is best.
■ Get rid of expired (out-of-date) medicines and medicines you no longer use.
■ Write down the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) and keep it next to your home phone. Add it to your cellphone, too.
■ It’s a good idea to add “ICE” entries to your cellphone address book. ICE equals “In Case of Emergency.” These numbers can be used to when you are seriously ill or injured to notify your emergency contacts and to obtain critical medical information if you are unconscious or unable to answer questions.
Boulder City Hospital is committed to the health of you and your family. With a staff of board-certified emergency room physicians and advanced cardiac life support certified nurses, we are proud of our ability to handle life-threatening situations, arising from sudden onset of illness, accident or injury. The emergency care facility is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week and is always ready to serve the community with technology and excellence in care.
Remember, in an emergency situation, time is of the essence. We’re glad to be able to offer quality emergency care services with a short wait time.
For more information on safety, visit www.healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/safety.
To Your Health is written by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.