78°F
weather icon Clear

Gravity always wins

Fall is just around the corner.

Not the season, the physical act of falling.

Social media are loaded with memes depicting why women live longer than men. Some portray a precarious situation caused by two or more extension ladders, some lumber and a pick-up truck to perform a simple task. As with most comedy, a streak of truth lies therein.

After two of my friends were hospitalized because of falls from ladders, I thought an epidemic of old guys falling may be afoot. Of course, I am younger than my friends, but not by much. However, I stopped using ladders a few years ago.

Unfortunately, this near-epidemic has been going on for decades.

In 2002, 60-year-old retired four-star general Hugh Shelton, who had recently retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suffered catastrophic injuries from a fall. He had used a ladder to climb 10 feet to trim a tree limb. A dead branch collapsed onto his ladder, causing him to fall.

His paratrooper training and 400-parachute jump experience kicked in, and he instinctively placed his feet together to fall. The top of a chain link fence broke his fall but changed his trajectory and propelled him headfirst onto the ground. Shelton was temporarily paralyzed, and had it not been for his excellent physical condition and superb medical treatment thereafter, he may have been a paraplegic.

This incident was burned into my memory at that time because if a highly decorated Special Forces general officer with two combat tours in Vietnam and one in the Persian Gulf War could sustain such injuries from a ladder fall, so could I.

The statistics from falls, and specifically from ladder-related falls, are alarming.

Over 34,000 folks die each year from falls. That is almost 100 a day.

Falling is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for all age groups, but it is the No. 1 cause of death in folks 65 and over.

There are over 300 ladder deaths each year, half of which are at construction sites. The other 150 ladder deaths occur at or near home. The term “near home” is tongue-in-cheek because it includes the times when one falls onto someone else’s property while on a ladder.

On any given day, scores of folks will be in emergency rooms with injuries from falling. There are over a half million ladder-related injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

I encourage my peers to cease performing their own handyman tasks, especially if they involve climbing or using a ladder. Perhaps your huge, tightly bound wallet restricts your cranium blood flow and prevents you from comparing a $150 labor charge with the co-pay for a hip replacement. Otherwise, find a good handyman and staple his card to your important papers for your future widow’s use.

If you are eligible for old-age Social Security benefits, you should not have any ladders in your home.

In the end, gravity wins. Just ask Gen. Shelton and my two friends.

Dan Jennings is a retired Army captain and a retired BCPD lieutenant. He can be reached at bcpd267@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Guest commentary: Yes votes will raise funds for pool, not taxes

Broadbent Memorial Park encompasses five acres of recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, tennis courts and green space for picnic and play areas. The Boulder City Pool offers healthy, affordable, enriching and fun programs.

Police need our support

In 1962, President (John F.) Kennedy signed a proclamation, established by a joint congressional resolution, designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor all peace officers who were killed or disabled in the line of duty. The week of May 15 was designated as National Police Week. This year, National Police Week is May 9-15.

Legislature accomplished much, but more to do

It is my honor to serve as the Assembly Republican caucus whip in the 81st legislative session. The caucus fought to open the building to the public long before session began. Our pressure was eventually successful in opening the building. It has been a pleasure meeting with some of my constituents inside my office who made the journey up and I look forward to seeing more.

Vaccines necessary for return to activities

Spring has arrived with warming temperatures along with the usual winds. We are also beginning to see the warming of our local businesses with the downward trends of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents’ passion for city blazed during primary

Congratulations are in order for Councilwoman-elect Sherri Jorgensen and Cokie Booth and Matt Fox, who will face off for the second City Council seat in June’s general election.

Mask use, types raise many questions

Along with the mask mandates and protocols, I am fascinated by the many different mask designs. Aside from those that are medically proven, those that adhere to the face in such a way that no air whatsoever can escape around the mask, generally speaking, the majority of masks do absolutely nothing, especially those made of cloth.

Attorney selection not surprising

Is history repeating itself? It certainly seems to be the case.

Series shares impact of fraud

Does everything always come down to how much money will be made? Do we know what truth is? Does truth still matter?