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How to Gauge and Prevent Safety Threats at Any Age

Every day more than 100,000 people are seriously injured in preventable incidents—that’s one person every second. As a safety professional, a mother of three boys and the daughter of parents over age 75, I am keenly aware of the age-specific risks to their safety.


Drowning is one of the leading causes of preventable death for children ages 1 to 14. Take precautions and never leave a child alone near water. If you will not be at the pool with your child, make sure a trusted adult is supervising, and make sure he or she is trained in First Aid and CPR. Do not leave a child alone in the bathtub for any reason.

Teen years

Car crashes are the number one killer of teens. Studies show teens with parents who set rules and stay engaged are half as likely to crash. It is recommended that parents practice driving with their teens for 30 minutes every day, even after licensure. Establishing household rules for your teen driver are proven to reduce risk—no passengers, no nighttime driving, always wear your seatbelt, no cell phone use and no speeding.

Middle age

Poisonings, mostly from drug overdoses, are the leading cause of preventable death among middle-aged Americans. Last year more than 18,000 people died from prescription painkillers, that’s 52 people a day. Asking your doctor for alternatives to pain medications is recommended, as is properly disposing unused prescriptions and never sharing prescribed medications with friends or family.

Older adults

Deaths attributed to older adult falls have increased 127 percent since 1999. About 29,500 people died from falls in 2013, and the vast majority of them were over age 65. While aging itself does not cause falls, falls can have more serious outcomes as we get older. To prevent falls, check homes for common tripping hazards, ensuring good lighting, installing and using handrails and improving strength and balance through exercise or tai chi.

You can take practical steps to help your loved ones understand how to make safer choices. Together, we can eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime, by preventing one injury at a time.

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