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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Donate to our cause.
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Like many Americans, my family visits the doctor regularly. My husband and I make sure we go through all the prevention screenings suggested for our age group, and I take my three girls to get regular checkups at the pediatrician to make sure they're growing up healthy and strong.
But there is a glaring gap in our personal health files. While our doctors test and analyze our risk for common illnesses, there is no screening for the fourth leading cause of death: Preventable injuries.
An American dies every four minutes because of an injury we know how to prevent. More than 136,000 people died in 2014 from preventable injuries – that's more than strokes. Everyone at every age is at risk, which is why it is so important to understand our odds and what we can do to improve our well-being and longevity.
In observance of National Safety Month, we are excited to introduce the Safety Checkup tool. In a matter of seconds, it can generate a snapshot of the biggest safety threats based on our age, gender and state of residence. It can even assess the risks facing our kids. The best things about this checkup: you won't waste time counting the minutes on the waiting room clock, and no insurance is necessary.
In years past, preventable death was a far less complex issue. Three decades ago, more than half of all preventable deaths in the U.S. were the result of car crashes. By contrast, the next leading cause of death – falls – accounted for only about 12 percent.
Today, safety is a three-legged stool. Instead of one, there are three very clear causes of preventable death that collectively impact nearly every age group. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among people in their mid-teens to early 20s. From the mid-20s to mid-60s, poisonings – largely from prescription opioids – claim the most lives. From age 65 on, falls are the leading killer.
The National Safety Council has pledged to eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime, but we cannot achieve this moonshot without your help. You can start by taking inventory of your own safety, then pledging to make safe choices for both you and your family.
Many of us go to the doctor around the same time every year. Starting this year, commit to June –National Safety Month – as your annual time for a safety checkup. There is nothing more important than our health and safety, and that starts with ensuring we know how to prevent the issues that are within our control.