Proper nutrition, physical fitness and taking care of our health in general is so much about being proactive and doing the right things, that we sometimes forget it's just as important to avoid doing the wrong things that can hinder us, harm us, or even kill us. Welcome to National Safety Month, which is designated for and promoted each June by the National Safety Council (NSC) as a reminder to all of us to take our time and be careful.
Being strong, fit, active, properly nourished, well-rested and overall healthy is almost meaningless if we are negligent in how we drive, store combustible materials, deal with cluttered stairways, utilize ladders, swim unsupervised, secure and safeguard weapons, cross the street, etc., etc., on and on. There are countless opportunities out there waiting for us to mess up and leave us in a spot where inconvenience doesn't quite describe our newfound predicament – the result of carelessness.
For 2015, the NSC has singled out out emergency preparedness, prescription painkiller abuse, distracted driving, and slips, trips and falls as safety issues to be emphasized. It's impossible in this space to cover every conceivable type of calamity that can occur in those four categories, but let's start at the end – with slips, trips and falls. These types of mishaps can easily befall any one of us, not just the elderly, many of whom find something as seemingly simple as balance while walking more treacherous with each passing year.
According to Response Senior Care, one in three older adults fall each year, with many spills causing broken bones and other health issues. Fifty-five percent of injury-causing falls among seniors occurred inside the house, with another 23 percent in close proximity to the residence. It doesn't take a multi-story house with stairs to present a danger: many dwelling area without stairs had their share of falls among the elderly, with living rooms and bedrooms ranking 1-2 on the list of home areas where such falls took place.
A number of things can be done in the home and at workplaces to reduce the risk of trips or falls, keeping in mind such accidents don't discriminate by age or gender. Following are some NSC safety precautions listed at reliableplant.com, a website dedicated to workplace issues such as safety, although these tips are just as useful for homes. Note that many of these are what we otherwise refer to as good housekeeping:
· Aisles, stairs and walkways should be clutter-free; spills should be wiped, dropped objects picked up, and cabinet drawers closed when not in use.
· Use handrails in stairways; take one step at a time, and report or repair broken stairs or loose stair coverings.
· Apply nonskid floor coatings and slip-resistant mats where falls are likely. Slow down and take small steps when walking on a wet or slippery surface.
· Inspect ladders before and after every use.
We also are advised to wear proper footwear and store frequently used items in easy-to-reach areas.
In terms of safe driving, many of us could write a book from what we ourselves have observed over the years. No texting while driving (eyes on the road), and that includes typing in numbers for phone calls or even the four-digit code to unlock your iPhone. Obey speed limits. Don't run red lights or creep through stop signs. Signal when turning or changing lanes. Keep ample space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Have your brakes checked periodically. Replace badly worn tires and wear seatbelts, front and in back. And that old maxim about "driving defensively"? It never gets old.
Play it safe out there regardless the circumstances and possibilities. Play by the posted rules, whether it's driving; swimming at the hotel pool, in a lake or in the ocean; or camping in the woods, where unfriendly wildlife might be lurking. And pay attention to prescription labels and the instructions.
Most importantly of all, do a big favor for your friends, loved ones and co-workers and remind them – several times -- that this is National Safety Month, and to take it to heart. Let’s be careful out there!