With 600 or so tasks to accomplish in the next three years, better not waste any time. So here’s the very, very first…
BADGE WORK REPORT: SAFETY FIRST
One of the requirements for the Safety First badge asks scouts to do an “informal poll” of people close to them to find out what the most common types of injuries are for people their own age. Sure, I could do a small sampling among friends and readers, but as it happens, pretty sound data exists in a large sample, and I was curious to see it.
The Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has this topic covered. Using their web-based WISQARS database (http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html), I ran some numbers using the most up-to-date data (2007). I’ve converted their dry, auto-generated table of numbers into a slightly more palatable chart:
Falling was the number one unintentional injury for folks around my age–by quite a large margin as you can see from that chart. Ladies, we are apparently clumsier than gentlemen, and I’m anecdotally wondering if we could draw a straight line from this data to high heels.
Anyway, the data surprised me a bit. I’ve always figured that the days of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” wouldn’t arrive until around the time of my first Social Security check (yes, I still have faith I’ll see them). Public health campaigns tend to focus on preventing falls for senior citizens, too. So I was even more surprised to learn that it’s the number one cause of unintentional non-fatal injury across all age groups and sexes.
In fact, the total number of falls for everyone, all ages and sexes, in 2007 was 4,346,855. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
It surprised me (and it may’ve surprised, you, too), but I don’t think it’s surprising those smart Girl Scout folks. One of the next requirements in this badge asks scouts to “Help prevent one of the most common causes of injuries and death in US: falls. Point out where falls can happen easily, such as in the bathrooms or on stairs, and show how they can be prevented.”
I’ll embark on that work down the road, but I’d be curious to know if anyone out there also finds it surprising that falling down is the #1 cause of unintentional injury. I think I’d assumed that, for my age group at least, it would be something “cutting yourself with a knife in the kitchen.”
That was my excuse for not cooking, and now I can’t use it. Rats.