Community Content: Stay safe during transition from spring to summer in Whitehall
Spring has sprung, and summer officially begins this weekend.
Although most people love this time of year, as I began my career as a volunteer firefighter in 1989, I quickly learned that the transition from spring to summer is known among firefighters and emergency-medical personnel as "trauma season."
April showers brought May flowers, and now the warm weather has enticed us outside for recreation, landscaping and other property maintenance. All of this increased outdoor activity leads to more injuries and more calls for emergency services.
This year, we have set records for rainfall, which caused two major flooding events, and the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to be a deep concern. 2020 has given us many reasons to be thinking about our safety.
Maybe "trauma season" is why the National Safety Council has designated June as National Safety Month. According to the NSC, approximately 125,300 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes and communities. The NSC also reports that the leading cause of death in our homes and communities is poisoning (which includes overdoses) at 50%, followed by falls at 29%.
The Whitehall Division of Fire's data looks similar. Overdose/poisoning and traumatic injuries come in second and third place among the top five reasons why our emergency-medical teams are called.
Nationally, if we eliminated poisoning/overdoses and falls, we could reduce preventable deaths by nearly 75%.
A key word here is preventable. Although we cannot stop the rain or an invisible virus, we can prepare our homes and ourselves to help prevent injuries. Education and preparation almost always are the answers.
One great resource is the ready.gov website provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
A second resource is the National Safety Council website, nsc.org, on which you can get education on poisonings, overdoses and falls, as well as many other topics.
Doing a home-safety inspection can go a long way to help eliminate some hazards. A few tips along those lines:
* Identify and correct loose rugs, handrails or stair treads.
* Make sure cleaning and lawn chemicals are put away and secured.
* Keep guards on all tools and store them out of reach of children.
* Eliminate clutter and keep pathways clear to prevent tripping.
* Wear protective gear when doing lawn work or using power tools.
* Keep a fire extinguisher or water bucket next to the outdoor barbecue and make sure burnable materials are kept away and stored safely.
And if you or a loved one are at risk of an overdose due to substance abuse, please remember that the fire division's SAFE Station continues to serve as a resource for anyone looking for safe, discrete pathways to addiction services.
These are just a few suggestions, but I hope to motivate you to make your home a safer place by emphasizing safety and risk reduction.
If you need help, the Whitehall Division of Fire can conduct a home-safety inspection at your request.
By working together, we can reduce the preventable injuries in your home and in the community.
If you do get in a jam and are injured, we will be there right away to help. If you need assistance with substance abuse, we can connect you to treatment.
The fire division will be here for you and the community during trauma season and always.
Preston Moore is chief of the Whitehall Division of Fire.