Most of us have experienced an injury in our lifetime. From a scraped knee to a bruise from bumping into a bedpost, minor injuries are a part of life that typically cause us only minor inconveniences. However, there’s a special classification of injuries called traumatic injuries that are much more serious, require medical attention, and sometimes lead to fatalities.
In the U.S., traumatic injuries, including those that result from homicide and suicide, are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Fortunately, many traumatic injuries are preventable by following basic safety guidelines. While not every traumatic injury is avoidable, implementing the following safety measures into your everyday life could be a lifesaver.
What is a Traumatic Injury?
A traumatic injury is a sudden, severe injury that requires immediate medical attention, including lifesaving measures like CPR. Traumatic injury examples include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Facial Injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Broken Bones and Compound Fractures
- Cuts, Punctures, Penetrating Wounds
- Gunshot Wounds
- Electric Shocks and Burns
- Blunt Force Trauma Injuries
Traumatic injuries can occur as a result of car crashes, sports, violence, natural disasters, falls, work related accidents, and more. In essence, everyone is at some risk of experiencing a traumatic injury as we go about our day to day lives.
The Prevalence of Injury and Violence in the United States
Let’s take a look at what the data reveals about traumatic injuries in the United States. According to the CDC:
- Every year, 214,000 people die from injuries and violence
- More than 33,700 people die each year in motor vehicle crashes.
- 2,791,000 older people are treated in an emergency for a fall every year
- 325,000 kids are treated for sports and recreation-related concussions in an emergency room every year
- 1 in 7 children experienced abuse or neglect in the last year
- Every 60 seconds, 20 people are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner
- 1 in 2 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime
- 1 in 5 men experience sexual violence in their lifetime
Preventing Traumatic Injuries
Fortunately, there are many safety measures you can take to prevent or reduce your chances of suffering a traumatic injury. Here are some of the key ways to stay safe.
Wearing your seatbelt is the most important safety measure action you can take when driving or riding in a vehicle. Remember, in the event of a traffic crash, anyone that is unbuckled in your vehicle can collide with other passengers causing severe injuries or even death. Make it a rule that no one rides in your vehicle unless they wear a seatbelt. Adhering to the speed limit, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, and following traffic rules and regulations are also crucial for preventing traumatic injuries and deaths from traffic crashes.
The elderly are particularly susceptible to falls. Fall prevention includes assessing your home for fall hazards like throw rugs, cords, stairs without a handrail, and ill-fitting or slippery footwear. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you are having issues with your balance or your eyesight, which can contribute to your fall risk.
Keeping Kids Safe
One of the primary ways to keep kids safe from traumatic injuries is to use proper safety equipment during play, recreation, and when participating in sports. Having proper safeguards in place like locked pool gates, locked gun cabinets, childproofing your home, and using properly installed car seats go a long way in preventing traumatic injuries.
Traumatic injuries are a serious and sometimes life-threatening medical emergency. The good news is that there are many safety precautions you can take to stay safe. For more information about traumatic injuries or other health concerns, please contact your primary care provider.