Simple steps can prevent injuries - or at least keep them from being worse

Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 10:00 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Unintentional injuries are the second-leading cause of death for people ages one to 44.

You can take steps to prevent them, or at least lesson the risk of serious injury should an accident happen.

Annie Buckland, RN, BSN is violence and injury prevention coordinator at Topeka’s Stormont Vail Health. She says safety is a lifelong lesson. Starting before baby is born, expectant moms are encouraged to learn proper use of seatbelts.

“After baby is born, we talk a lot about safe sleep; that baby should always be on their back, alone, in a crib, no blankets, no bumpers or anything like that,” she said.

Once children start moving around, there’s even more risk.

“Those little guys like to get into everything - anybody who’s had a toddler knows that - so we talk about proofing the home, making sure that you have your cabinets locked, making sure you have your medications up and out of the way,” Buckland said.

As kids get into bike riding and scooters, safety equipment is vital to protect again those inevitable falls. Buckland shows kids a model of how thin the skull is, so they see why it needs help from a helmet to protect their brain.

“The big risk is really you can lose your life but you can also have a decrease in your quality of life: having to have a breathing tube the rest of your life, not being able to walk,” Buckland said. “A helmet can really prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering.”

At the other end of the age spectrum, falls are a big risk. Things like medications, and changes in muscle strength, vision and reaction time can impact our balance as we get older. You can find lots of tools to help.

“Everything from aids, from walking sticks to canes to the strips you put down in the bath, to lighting,” Buckland said. “With older adults, we really just want to encourage them to remain active and not to become so fearful of falling that became inactive and then that increases their risk for falls.”

At all ages, practice proper vehicle passenger safety from the very young in their car seats, graduating to booster seats and the regular seat belts.

“Half of all car seats are installed improperly,” Buckland warned.

Should an accident happen, skills like hands-only CPR and a class like stop the bleed can make a big difference.

“Acting quickly in an emergency is so important because it can help stop the additional worsening of that injury” Buckland said. “It doesn’t take a ton of skill. It really just takes that good human nature of I’m going to try my very best.”

Buckland said resources are available to assist with many prevent efforts.

Free car seat checkup events are held regularly around the area. Find a schedule from the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office web site. In addition, Stormont offers them the second Saturday of every month at location around town. The next is 9 a.m. to Noon Dec. 9 at Topeka Fire Station #5, 720 SW 21st St.

Plus, Stormont offers free ‘Stop the Bleed’ training for all ages and ‘Matter of Balance’ classes for older adults. Registration information is here.

Safe Kids and other community partners, including Kansas Highway Patrol, Shawnee Co. Health Dept., State Fire Marshal and Kansas Poison Center, will host an Injury Free Day. A children’s safety fair and story time will take place from 10 a.m. to Noon Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Topeka & Shawnee Co. Public Library. The event is free.