According to the National Safety Council, approximately 118,000 Americans died in 2008 due to accidents; 54,500 fatalities occurred in homes. Accident rates in homes increased from 2007 to 2008. In comparison, deaths from motor vehicle accidents, the second-highest cause of accidental death, decreased 10 per cent to 39,000 fatalities -- which includes 200 that occurred at home. Accidental death was the No 5 cause of death in 2006, behind diseases of the heart, all types of cancer, stroke and lower-respiratory diseases. The Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) lists ways Americans can prevent the most common fatal accidents at home.
According to the NCIPC, falls are the leading cause of fatalities for older adults. Over half of all falls occur in the home. People age 65 and over accounted for 15,800 fatalities from falls in 2005. Children are also vulnerable: 147 children died from playground- related accidents in the ten years ending 2005; 20 per cent of those deaths were from falls. Seventy per cent of children's playground deaths occurred on home playgrounds. Deaths due to falls increased rather than decreased for the decade. Older Americans can protect themselves from falls by exercising to improve balance and strength. Their doctors should check their vision and medications to ensure that interactions are not causing side effects that lead to falls. Parents can protect children from falls at home by installing guards on windows and verifying that the home playground is installed correctly and kept in good condition.
The NCIPC reports that an average 75 Americans die daily from accidental poisoning. In 2006, 27,531 accidental poisoning deaths occurred; most -- 26,400 -- from accidental drug overdoses. Half of the overdoses involved prescription drugs rather than street drugs. Poisonings are right behind motor vehicle accidents as a cause of accidental fatalities. Prescription drugs involved in deaths were usually painkillers such as oxycodone, (OxyContin®), or hydrocodone (Vicodin®). Small children see adults taking medication and want to try them too. On average, two children die daily from accidental poisoning. Over 80 per cent of children seen in emergency rooms for poisoning took medicine they found at home. The NCIPC suggests that adults carefully read directions on medicines and obey warnings about combining painkillers and alcohol. Make sure children cannot reach prescription or over-the-counter medications and always use childproof bottles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fires and burns are No. 3 on the list of fatal injuries in homes. Nearly 10 Americans die daily on average due to fires, mostly because of smoke inhalation rather than burns. Small children and adults over age 65 are most vulnerable. Although cooking accidents cause the most fires in homes, most fatalities result from fires started by smoking, and alcohol is a contributing factor in 40 per cent of deadly fires. Homes are where 80 per cent of fire deaths occur. To reduce the risks, the CDC recommends smoke alarms --- 40 per cent of fatalities occurred in homes that had none.
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