GUEST COLUMN: Some tips to avoid accidents during the summer

By TONI WARBURTON, guest columnist

Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages — and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44.

The good news is everyone can get involved to help prevent injuries.

During National Safety Month, the Brown County Health Department is working to help reduce the risk.

This month, we encourage you to learn more about important safety issues like prescription painkiller abuse; transportation safety; and slips, trips and falls.

Prescription painkillers

Prescription painkiller overdoses are a growing problem in the United States, especially among women. About 18 women die every day from a prescription painkiller overdose — more than four times as many as back in 1999.

Never increase the dosage of your medication unless instructed by your health care provider or pharmacist. This may occur if the medication is not available in the dosage ordered by your provider, and instructions would indicate this on your prescription label.

The staff at the Brown County Health Department suggests that you bring a list or a sack containing all your medicines when you go to your doctor’s office, the pharmacy or the hospital. Include all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements that you use.

If your doctor prescribes a new medicine, ask if it is safe to use with your other medicines. Remind your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to any medicines.

Transportation

Doing other activities while driving — like texting or eating — distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost 1 in 5 crashes (17 percent) that injured someone involved distracted driving.

Roads are a place of constant risk, with millions of vehicles moving alongside one another. Since it’s impossible to control the choices of everyone on the road, we need to be defensive drivers.

The health department nurses ask that when getting behind the wheel, remember that this is a time for patience and focus — qualities that can help you avoid a collision should someone else make a bad decision.

Slips, trips, falls

One in three older adults falls each year. Many falls lead to broken bones and other health problems.

Falls are preventable. Aging itself does not cause falls. Some of the underlying causes of older-adult falls, such as muscle weakness, medications that cause dizziness, improper footwear, impaired vision, slick floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, clutter and uneven surfaces, can be improved.

While falls can happen anywhere, they most often occur at home.

What can you do to make your home or the home of someone you love safer? Remove clutter from your home. Arrange furniture so there is plenty of room for walking. Secure the carpets to the floor or remove throw rugs. If necessary, provide personal walking devices, such as a cane or walker, to aid in stability.

If you feel you are in need of an assistance device, you can contact Access-Ability. This group offers the loan of durable medical equipment to help people gain greater independence. They are sponsored by the Columbus Regional Health Foundation, Nugent Foundation and Custer Foundation. The contact person is Cindy Olson at 812-314-2899. Their website is access-ability-nonprofit.com.

For more information on this or other health topics, please call the Brown County Health Department at 812-988-2255.

Toni Warburton is the public health nurse supervisor for the Brown County Health Department. She can be reached at 812-988-2255 or warburtont@browncounty-in.us.