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25 Tips for Preventing Trauma & Living a Safe, Healthy Life

Simple tips for living a healthier, safer life with reduced risk for trauma

In honor of May being National Trauma Awareness month and the 25th anniversary of the trauma system in San Diego County, we’ve put together 25 tips for preventing trauma and enjoying safe, healthy activities — whether you’re at home, on the road or just enjoying the day.

Safety tips for the home

1. Be smart about chemicals, and keep poisons out of reach

Read and follow instructions and warnings on any chemical products you bring into your home, from mouthwash to disinfectants. Keep products in their original labeled containers and never mix cleaning products, as this can create deadly fumes.

Keep cleaning supplies, pesticides, bleach, medications and any other potentially poisonous or dangerous substance well out of reach of young hands. If you have questions, call your local poison control center.

2. Reduce your chances of falling

Keep throw rugs out of the “beaten path” if you use an assistive device. Clear away clutter and keep hallways and rooms well lit.

3. Stay out of hot water

Set your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees F to avoid scalding burns.

4. Where there’s smoke…

Test your smoke detectors weekly and change the batteries ever six months or so — a good reminder: when you change your clocks, change your batteries.

5. Plan your escape

Create a family fire escape plan that includes two ways to exit each room and a safe place for everyone to meet outside. Hold a “fire drill” to practice the plan at least once a year.

6. Make sure your medications get along

If you take prescription medications, be sure to tell your physician about any vitamins, herbal supplements or over-the-counter drugs you may be taking. Interactions can change a drug’s effectiveness or create unwanted side effects.

7. “Back to sleep” for babies

Unless your pediatrician says otherwise, always put healthy babies to sleep on their backs; babies who sleep face down have a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

8. Pool patrol

Backyard swimming pools are great fun, but also pose great danger if they’re not properly protected. Install isolation fencing and self-latching gates around all pools and spas, and use pool covers or alarms for extra safety.

9. Step up safely

Inspect your ladder before each use for loose or worn parts, place it on a firm, level surface, and set locks or braces before you climb up. If in doubt, hire a professional to do the task.

On the road

10.Don’t drink and drive

This should go without saying.

11. Avoid drowsy driving

Driving while sleepy can be nearly as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Keep a window open for fresh air on long trips, and sing along with the radio. If you’re tired, pull over and take a nap.

12.Hands-free isn’t risk-free

Even with a headset, talking on your mobile phone while driving can still be distracting. Play it safe and pull over to take your call.

13. Buckle up

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts “are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today.” So wear one — always.

14.Buckle up your stuff

Loose items on car seats can become dangerous projectiles during a crash or sudden stop — imagine a heavy book or can of soup hurling through the air at your head. Secure your cargo and use your trunk if you have one.

15.Car seat check

In California, children are required to ride in a federally approved baby car seat or child booster seat until they are at least six years old or weigh at least 60 pounds. Make sure your seats meet approved safety standards and are correctly installed. Register all baby equipment in case of a recall. All children should ride in the back seat until age 12. Infant seats should never be placed in the front seat of any vehicle.

16.Look out for children

Each year, children are injured by drivers who don’t see them. Take a quick walk around your vehicle before you leave to make sure the coast is clear.

17. Share the road

Whether you’re on two wheels or four, be courteous of other drivers and cyclists. Signal when you’re going to turn and give others the right of way. Don’t drive in bike lanes, and don’t ride two or three across in traffic lanes.

When you're out and about

18.Cross carefully

Cross streets only at crosswalks, wait for the traffic light — and watch out for drivers who don’t give you the right of way.

19. Keep your cool

Exercising in hot or humid weather can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke if you don’t take the proper precautions. Drink plenty of water to keep your body cool and hydrated and take frequent rest breaks. If you feel weak, lightheaded or nauseated, stop and rest in a cool spot.

20.Safety around dogs

A dog that is having a bad day can be dangerous. Don’t pet or approach a dog without the owner’s permission, don’t tease a dog — and keep your hands and face away from any dog you don’t know.

21.Shop safely

It only takes a second for a child to fall from a shopping cart. Don’t let your child stand up in a cart or reach for objects on shelves, and stay close to the cart.

22.No waiting in the car

During warm weather, the temperature inside a car can top 100 degrees within minutes, even with the window open a bit. Never leave a child or pet in a car, even “just for a minute.” Since children and infants sit in the back seat in their proper restraint device, place an item belonging to the infant or child in the front seat to remind you that they are back there.

23.Wear a helmet

Bike helmets reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent. Whether you’re four or forty, wear a helmet any time you ride a bike or engage in any activity where you might fall on your head: skating, skiing, and so on.

24.Play it safe

If you take the kids to a playground, make sure there is a safe surface beneath all equipment, such as shredded rubber, fine sand or synthetic turf.

25. Learn CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save a life and is easy to learn. To find a class near you, check with your local American Heart Association.

Finally, in any emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

About the San Diego Trauma System

The trauma system in San Diego County, established in 1984 under the county Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), consists of five adult and one pediatric trauma centers: Palomar Medical Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Sharp Memorial Hospital, UC San Diego Medical Center and Rady Children’s Hospital.

San Diego is a national model for responding to victims of traumatic injury. In 2004, the Surgeon General of the United States called it “the envy of the nation.” According to the annual San Diego County Trauma System Report, the system consistently shows a 95 percent survival rate for trauma patients who are admitted to a designated trauma center.

Since the inception of the San Diego County Trauma System, the preventable death rate from major traumatic injury in San Diego County has fallen from 22 percent to less than one percent. Motor vehicle accidents still account for nearly 75 percent of the traumatic injuries in San Diego County, and over half of those who die are not wearing seat belts.