The State of Safety report, released in the spring of 2017 by the National Safety Council (NSC), has some sobering news for New Yorkers who think their homes and communities are safe. The fresh study that addresses unintentional deaths in America says we in the Empire State have plenty of room for improvement.
The State of Safety divided the entire study into three primary safety categories:
- Workplace Injury
- Home and Community
And though we did relatively well in road and workplace, our unintentional deaths in home and community dragged us down overall into the lower half of all U.S. states.
Some of the subsections included in the National Safety Council’s Home and Community segment were:
- Older adult falls
- Youth-related concussions
- Home fires.
Some of the More Dangerous Threats to our Communities’ Safety and Well-Being
Let’s take a closer look at some of these categories and view them from a local perspective.
Unintentional Poisoning: The prevailing cause of accidental poisonings is the misuse of prescription drugs – particularly opioid pain medication. In 2016, there were 1,374 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the five New York City boroughs, according to medical examiners. Compared to 937 accidental drug overdose deaths in 2015, it’s an increase of over one-third. Children, especially, are misusing prescription drugs at an alarming rate, according to the Safety Council. Even over-the-counter medications, like cold medicines and sleeping aids, can be dangerous when taken in large quantities, especially by children.
Accidental Falls: Falls are a leading cause of injury-related deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for adults 65 and older. And our state’s Department of Health (NYDH) says their numbers are rising. From 2000 to 2014, fall-related deaths among senior citizens increased by over one-third.
Each day in 2014, there were 304 emergency department visits, 143 hospitalizations and 3 deaths because of falls by New Yorkers aged 65 and older.
Youth-related concussions: Each year, NYDH reports, over 6,000 children aged 19 and under are hospitalized after being on wheeled recreational equipment (bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard). Around 20 percent of them suffered some sort of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Also, around 3,000 in that same age bracket are injured while skiing or snowboarding, with 25 percent of them suffering either a simple concussion or a more serious form of TBI.
Firearm fatalities: Since January of 2014, no less than 23 minors in New York State have been killed or injured in an accidental shooting, according to a joint investigation by the Associated Press and USA Today. And we find it quite alarming that New York State has no laws preventing children’s access to guns, while states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee – where gun ownership is more prolific – do.
Home fires: Although on the decline for the past several decades, an all-time low of 48 fire-related deaths were reported for 2016 by the New York Fire Department. FDNY officials credit working smoke alarms as one reason for the drop. Nationally, 60 percent of all home fire deaths occur in residences without smoke alarms, or where alarms were present but did not properly operate.
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