My favorite go to saying is, “It is what it is.” It works as a response to almost everything — try it next time you either don’t know what to say or you are afraid you might say too much. My next favorite is, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.” This one also works in lots of situations — from why I shouldn’t have to clean my house to why I should eat the double stuffed pizza. This one also happens to be true. There is a decent chance that something terrible can happen tomorrow. Buses swerve, people text while driving, kids choke, hearts stop, fires start — ’tis the season! This week, how often bad things happen, how to be prepared and what to do in the event of an emergency. After all, no matter how careful you are, accidents will happen. It is what it is.
1. Each year in the U.S., there are 26 million emergency room visits for unintentional injuries. 123,706 of these result in death making accidents the 5th leading cause of death. For children and adolescents, accidents are by far the leading cause of death, killing about 10,000 children between 1 and 19 each year in the U.S.
2. Motor vehicle accidents result in the injury of more than 2 million people each year and the death of more than 42,000. If you text while driving, you are 23 times more likely to get into an accident. About 25% of accidents are caused by drivers between the ages of 19 and 29. Get this … while 34% of teenagers text while driving, 47% of adults are guilty of this dangerous practice and adults are more likely to talk on the phone while driving. I blame this on the fact that while teenagers are usually in the car with their friends whose company they enjoy, I am usually in the car with my children. (In 1982, drunk driving made up 60% of fatal car crashes. In 2008, it caused 37%.)
3. Each year there are about 2 million unintentional poisonings with about 700,00 of these resulting in ER visits and about 25,000 resulting in death. About half of unintentional poisonings occur in children under the age of 6 but the more serious cases are in adolescents and adults.
4. Ladder injuries result in about 2.1 million injuries a year with 97% of these happening at home and 77% of them happening to men. This tells me two things: 1. “do it yourself” projects are a bad idea for the average guy and 2. getting the Christmas lights onto your roof or to the top of a tall tree is not worth life and limb. Jesus was a carpenter and I am sure he would appreciate you calling in the professionals.
5. Choking kills about 160 children under the age of 14 in the U.S. in one year. Each year, about 18,000 kids under the age of 14 are treated for choking in the emergency room. Approximately 60% of these episodes were caused by food, 30% by a non-food item and in the remaining 10%, the cause is unknown. Heart attacks affect 1.1 million people in the U.S. each year. About half of these are fatal.
There you have it. Even if you just skimmed through those numbers (statistics can be mind-numbing), the point is that accidents and emergencies do happen and while you shouldn’t lose sleep worrying, there are things that you can do to prevent them and there are things that you can do after the fact to help lessen their impact. Boy scout style, I am going to try to enumerate a few of these this week.
Last year, I insisted that my husband string lights around the porch. Occasionally, I can be reasonable about such things but last year, I was Christmas crazy and had newborn-induced sleep deprivation. Trying to appease the psychotic woman who was sharing his bed, my husband got on an unsteady ladder and strung the lights. As payment for his effort, he received a piece of copper in his eye that, true to the season, ended up making his cornea look like an oft-used skating rink. The strongest weapon you can use to arm yourself against accidents is common sense. If, as you are climbing that ladder, dialing that number or drinking that arsenic, you are thinking, “This probably isn’t a good idea.”, then stop. It is what it is and it probably isn’t a good idea