Break Point!

Volume 1, Issue 3 View the Archives May, 1998
Break Point Sails into May with an Abundance of Injury Prevention Topics
Safety Belts - Every Time You Drive or Ride
"Safe Kids at Home, at Play, and on the Way"
Giving Electricity the Respect it Deserves
Making Waves about Boating Safety Riding Safely into Spring National EMS Week Emergency Medical Services for Children Day Summer Fun, Don't Forget to Keep Your Sunglasses Handy
Prevention Web Sites of the Month
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Break Point Sails into May With an Abundance of Injury Prevention Topics

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program
As the warm weather approaches, people will be spending more time outdoors doing activities they had been unable to do in the winter season. Break Point is expanding this issue of its newsletter to include the many injury prevention topics May has to offer. The list includes:
  • National Trauma Awareness Month
  • National Electrical Safety Month
  • National Bike Month
  • National Sight Saving Month
  • National SAFE KIDS Week (6/3-6/9)
  • National Emergency Medical Services Week 6/17-6/23
  • National Safe Boating Week 6/17-6/23
  • Buckle Up America Week
  • National Emergency Medical Services for Children Day May 20

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 with any comments or questions.

Safety Belts - Every Time You Drive or Ride

  Chances are this year someone you know will be involved in a car crash. If they are not properly restrained, their chance of being injured or killed increases by 50 percent. In recent years, increasing seat belt use has become less of a priority for many people. Wearing seat belts is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries on America's roadways. Even so, the estimated usage rate is 68 percent Nationally and 64 percent in Illinois. According to Buckle Up America, a coalition aimed at increasing seat belt use; it can also save you money. We all pay for those who don't wear seat belts. The higher health care and higher insurance costs that result from unbelted drivers and passengers involved in crashes are passed along to all of us. Inpatient hospital costs for an unbelted crash victim are 50 percent higher than those for a belted crash victim. Taxpayers bear 85 percent of those costs, not the individual drivers involved. Crashes increase costs for health and disability insurance and increase worker's compensation expenses for employers. Across the nation, Buckle Up America has begun to build grassroots coalitions to increase the seat belt use rate to 90 percent and reduce child fatalities by 25 percent by the year 2005-saving the nation 8.8 billion and preventing more than 5,500 deaths and 132,000 injuries annually. The local Buckle Up America campaign is urging everyone to help increase seat belt use. Here are a few things you can do get involved:
  • Always make sure that everyone in your vehicle is buckled up.
  • Encourage your employer or employees to get involved by instituting a mandatory seat belt policy within your company.
  • Support community efforts to strengthen the enforcement of your local seat belt and child safety seat laws.

"Safe Kids at Home, at Play, and on the Way"

National SAFE KIDS Week 98
 National SAFE KIDS Week, May 2-9, 1998 will emphasize teaching children, their parents and caregivers how to maintain safe home and play environments. State and local SAFE KIDS coalitions will be holding Safe Kids At Home, At Play, And On The Way activities designed to teach children about injury prevention. Safe At Home: teaching children fire safety. Safe at Play: includes water safety and playground safety. Safe on the Way: showing children how to be safe while riding in a motor vehicle. A national car seat safety check will start off the week of activities on May 2. General Motors Corporation Pontiac Division, in partnership with the National SAFE KIDS campaign, is hosting free car seat safety checks at Pontiac dealerships across the country. The Chicagoland SAFE KIDS coalition will sponsor a car seat safety check at New Rogers Pontiac and Hyundai, 2720 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago on May 2. On May 14,1998, a Safety Obstacle Course will be held at the Children's Museum at Navy Pier from 4pm-8pm. Many fun activities are planned and include prizes.

Giving Electricity the Respect it Deserves

  In light of the recent massive power outage in March, when an estimated 500,000 people were without electricity, the cliché " you never appreciate something until it is gone" takes on special meaning. The U.S. is a major consumer of electricity. We use it every day without even thinking twice about it. It is this day to day familiarity with electrical equipment that creates a certain degree of indifference to its hazards. Each year hundreds of people die and thousands suffer injuries relating to electrical shocks and electrical fires. Electricity has a property of always following the path of least resistance. Often that path is through a human body and this can prove to be fatal. Adults, as well as children, need to be safe around electricity and electrical equipment. Some things to keep in mind when working with electricity:

  1. When working on a roof, be aware of where the ladder is in relation to the service drop and overhead wires.
  2. When using an electrical appliance near water, such as in the bathroom or kitchen, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GCFI), which can interrupt circuit flow before it becomes fatal.
  3. If you suspect any faulty wiring in your house be sure to have a qualified electrician inspect the wires. Faulty wiring is a major cause of fire-related deaths.
  4. Keep children safe around electrical outlets. There are many products on the market, which cover the outlet to keep curious children from putting objects into them. Some of the current types of covers include clear outlet plugs and sliding safe plates.
  5. Instruct children not to climb trees or fly kites near powerlines.

Making Waves about Boating Safety

 There has been an immense growth of personal watercraft (PWC) usage. This results in an increase in the number of these crafts in the water. This increase in the number of crafts in the water has unfortunately corresponded to an increase in the number of injuries. Between 1987 and 1996, U.S Coast Guard PWC statistics show that PWC usage has risen from 92,756 operators to over 900,000. Many of the PWC operators use their crafts for more hours per day and for more days per season than any other watercraft. There has been a push for more legislation in Washington, D.C.- especially from President Clinton. More than 26 states have based Personal Watercraft laws on the PWC Model Safety Act. This act addresses the minimum operator age (16), prohibits nighttime and reckless operation and requires all operators to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Before taking your PWC in the water know the rules for riding smart:

  1. Wear your lifejacket. An approved PFD (personal flotation device) is required by law. Remember that a PFD can't help save your life if you aren't wearing it.
  2. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and operate a PWC. Alcohol impairs your ability for decision making. Over half of all boating deaths involve alcohol.
  3. Know your watercraft. Be sure to read the operator's manual and practice operating your craft away from other boaters.
  4. Take a boating safety course. Learn how to operate a PWC safely.
  5. OPERATE PWC'S DEFENSIVELY. The number one cause of PWC injuries is collisions with other boats.
  6. Carry safety equipment. In addition to a PFD, carry a whistle, and a towrope. When operating in large bodies of water, it is prudent to carry some small flares in a watertight container.

Riding Safely into Spring

  There aren't many people who cannot remember their first bike, the color and style, the excitement and fear of having so much freedom never known to them before. Bicycling is fun, healthy and a good way to exercise. In a 1995 Centers for Disease Control report, bicycle related injuries resulted in 17,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. Nearly 800 people died from bicycle related head injuries. No state currently has a bicycle helmet law. Local ordinances in a few states do require some or all bicyclists to wear helmets; another 15 states have helmet laws applying to young riders only. Interest in helmet use is on the rise. Many suburban townships are studying the use of bicycle helmets for all riders. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in 1975 there were 1003 total bicycle deaths, while in 1996 there were only 757. Increasing your knowledge of safe bicycling will get you where you are going safely. No matter how short your ride, always wear your bicycle helmet. Properly fitting helmets can help prevent head injuries. When purchasing a helmet remember to:

  • Try the helmet on before you buy it.
  • Adjust the straps to that the helmet fits snugly and sits flat on the head.
  • Use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to ensure a proper fit (for children).
  • Look for the sticker that indicates the helmet meets safety standards set by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • Replace the helmet if it has been damaged.
  • Remember that if your children see you wearing a helmet they will be more likely to wear their own helmets.

National EMS Week

EMS Week Theme: The Vital Link

 Emergency Medical Services Week will focus on the Vital Link between EMS personnel and their communities not only in terms of saving lives, but in educating the public in areas of injury prevention and how and when to access the EMS services. EMS week, May 17-23 celebrate the contributions of EMS providers nationwide and stresses the importance of strong support for the EMS system. Emergency Medical Services is a system of care for victims of sudden and serious illness or injury. This system depends on the availability and coordination of many different elements. Informing the public on the use of 9-1-1 emergency number, search and rescue teams and prehospital and emergency department personnel are some of the critical elements necessary for the EMS system to work. Some of the events Loyola University Medical Center has planned for EMS week include:

  • Wednesday, May 20 - Open house for area school children at the Lifestar hangar - 9AM-12 noon. There will be the distribution of bike helmets and other safety materials available. If you would like to find out more contact Laurel Lestina at x64048.
  • Thursday, May 21 - Distribution of gifts and recognition awards to pre-hospital providers.
  • Friday, May 22 - Hospital resource open house at the Lifestar hangar. For more information call Gina Rutig at x65200.

Emergency Medical Services for Children Day

  In Illinois, the Wednesday of EMS Week is recognized as Emergency Medical Services for Children Day. This day gives Statewide recognition to and provides an opportunity to enhance awareness of the special emergency medical needs of children. It also encourages an ongoing collaborative effort to improve the care we provide to our children. A child's need for emergency care is different from that of adults. In 1994, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Loyola University Medical Center began receiving federal funding (sponsored through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to initiate efforts in addressing pediatric needs throughout the State. Ideally, emergency medical services should encompass prevention; pre-hospital care emergency department and inpatient care as well as appropriate follow-up and rehabilitative care. The goal of the Illinois EMSC program is to decrease childhood morbidity and mortality by ensuring appropriate resources and capabilities to meet the emergency care needs of children across the continuum of care. This year EMSC day will be held on May 20, 1998. Activities planned at Loyola will be held from 9am-12 noon at the Lifestar hangar.

Summer Fun, Don't Forget to Keep Your Sunglasses Handy

National Sight Saving Month

  Sunglasses aren't just for making a fashion statement. They also serve to protect the eyes. Sunglasses enhance the normal light-filtering capabilities of your eyes and protect against the sun's damaging Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Whether you are in the sun at work or for recreation, increasing your exposure to these rays can damage your eyes. Most people are familiar with the sun's UV radiation by the sunburn it can cause without protection on the skin. There is increasing data that UV radiation can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, (the cause of loss of vision in older adults). A good pair of sunglasses should keep out nearly 100 percent of the sun's UV-A and UV-B rays. Remember that children's eyes are just as susceptible to ultra violet rays as adults are. When going out into the sun, be sure to keep in mind these safety tips:

  • Look for the tag on the lens, which shows how much UV-A, and UV-B protection is given.
  • Wear a cap or visor to give maximum protection from the sun.
  • Wrap around eyewear decreases the amount of harmful light, which enters from the sides of the sunglasses.
  • When buying sunglasses for children, be sure they do not have pop out lenses and the lenses are made of polycarbonate. The frames should be non-bendable or breakable.

Prevention Web Sites of the Month

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Bikes and Blades: The Safety Scene
Children's Safety Network
Emergency Medical Services for Children
Harborview Medical Center - Childhood Injuries
Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children
Lexington Bicycle Safety Program
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
National Association of EMS Educators
National Council of State EMS Training Coordinators
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National SafeKids Campaign
Snell Memorial Foundation
World Health Organization

Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • National Safety Month
  • Firework Safety Month
  • National Prevention of Eye Injuries Awareness Week

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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