Close up of couple putting up Christmas lights outside of house

The country’s top injury and violence prevention organizations are joining forces Friday, November 18, 2022, for the third annual National Injury Prevention Day. UofL Health – Trauma Institute is raising awareness about injury and how to prevent it in our local community.

Traumatic Injury Facts

Traumatic injuries and interpersonal violence are the number one killer and cause of hospitalization of people 1 to 44 years old (Injury Free Coalition for Kids). Traumatic injury is the 4th leading cause of death overall for all ages (American Association or the Surgery of Trauma). Many of these are preventable with the use of safety practices and community strategies.

Motor vehicle crashes are the largest cause of traumatic injury at UofL Health – UofL Hospital – Emergency Room. In 2021, 1,459 people were admitted because of a Motor Vehicle / Motorcycle crash (UofL Health Trauma Registry).

Injury Prevention Activity Spotlight

UofL Health is forging a new partnership with Louisville’s Vision Zero network, dedicated to strategic interventions and community awareness with the goal of zero roadway deaths by 2050.

The UofL Health – UofL Hospital – Burn Center provides burn prevention education to the community through a youth fire prevention class, presentations at schools and the state fair. Education on social media is a focus during National Burn Awareness Week and National Fire Prevention Week.

UofL Health – UofL Hospital has been a part of a community network dedicated to reducing violence in our city since 2017. Our Pivot to Peace Intervention Network connects patients who have been hospitalized due to a violent injury. Our Trauma Community Health Workers and trauma Social Workers are here for you.

UofL Hospital partnered with the University of Louisville School of Medicine SNMA, Christopher 2X Game Changers and the YMCA to create Future Healers, a program that serves youth ages 4-13 that have been affected by gun violence. The program supports over 100 youths through monthly educational sessions, social events, and family support.

What Can You Do?

What can you do to stay trauma free in your daily life? Use these safety tips and information to keep you and your family injury free this season.

Exterior Decorating

Decorating for the holidays has become more extravagant. There are more exterior decorations than ever before. If you are going to decorate outside, please use the following safety precautions:

  • Ladders: use a broad-based ladder. Follow weight restrictions on the ladder. Never work on a ladder alone. Always have someone with you who can assist or call 911.
  • If working on a roof, be careful of snow or black ice that could lead to a fall. A well-insulated roof should be cold, which means snow and ice could be present. Even just a small patch of shingles covered in black ice could lead to a fall.
  • Consider using a light projector in your decorating. These will light up your whole house and were designed to eliminate any need to climb a ladder or get on the roof.
  • If using inflatable decorations outdoors, be sure to follow any wattage recommendations. Use outdoor extension cords as they are designed to withstand the wattage as well as wet and snowy conditions.

Trees and Electricity

  • Follow rules and guidelines on strings of lights. Do not connect more than recommended and be sure to not overload circuits and plugs.
  • Pre-lit trees: do not add additional lighting. The lights provided are intended to connect to each other and that’s all. Do not use those cords as extension cords for additional lights or other nearby decorations.
  • Even if a pre-lit tree indicates that it is non-flammable, that does not mean that it will not smoke or smolder. Smoking and smoldering can reach nearby items that ARE flammable and will catch fire.
  • If you have a real tree, they are safe as long as they are green and fresh. Keep them well-watered as they can dry out fast, which can be a potential hazard.

Interior Decorating

  • Holiday get-togethers and interior decorating can lead to the rearranging of furniture. Normal traffic patterns may be different or interrupted. This can be dangerous and lead to falls – especially for our elderly folks. Be aware of this. It is a good idea to make sure there is a clear path and use night lights for visibility.
  • Increased use of extension cords for your decorating can be a fall hazard. Be sure to tuck them away out of high-traffic areas or secure them if possible.
  • Area rugs and other decorative items including throw pillows, etc. could be trip hazards.
  • If burning candles put them in a safe place which is usually UP HIGH where they cannot be easily knocked over and where children cannot reach them. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Be sure to extinguish candles fully when finished with them. 

Cold Weather

  • Space Heaters: colder weather can lead to increased use of space heaters. Use with care by following safety precautions and keeping them the recommended distance from flammable materials and items.
  • If using an electric blanket or throw, monitor them while in use and be sure to turn them off when not in use.
  • Cold weather could also mean pets spending more time indoors. This is wonderful, but you may not be used to the pets and their toys, etc. being on the floor and in your walking paths. Always be aware of potential fall hazards.
  • Prepare for snowy conditions before it’s too late. Don’t wait until the first snow to check the status of your snow shovel or to purchase salt. Keep high traffic areas such as porches and sidewalks clear, and be sure those areas are well lit, especially with it getting dark early.
  • If roads are wet, snow or icy, be safe and use caution. If at all possible, wait until the roads are cleared before driving.

Cooking and Baking

  • Make sure your home has multiple fire extinguishers, especially one in the kitchen. 65% of house fires start in the kitchen. Store extinguishers in visible places so they are easily and quickly found if needed.
  • This is a good time of year to review – or establish – your family’s fire escape plan!
  • When cooking and baking for the holidays, prevent burn injuries by keeping pot handles turned away so that they cannot be bumped or knocked off the stove.
  • While it is fun to bake with children during the holidays, sometimes it is safest to have them stay out of the kitchen as they can be quick to grab and touch a hot burner, oven rack, cookie sheet, etc.

Alcohol

  • The UofL Hospital – Emergency Room sees its highest alcohol levels between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. If drinking is a part of your holiday celebration, do not drive and do not mix with medications.
  • If you have had anything to drink, do not drive. Call a friend or relative for a ride or grab a ride-share like Uber or Lyft.

AUTHORS

Jess Brown, AICP, MPA

Jess Brown, AICP, MPA, is the injury prevention manager at UofL Health – UofL Hospital. She oversees the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program “Pivot to Peace”, Community Health and develops other prevention initiatives and partnerships related to the top causes of traumatic injury.

Michelle Broers, PT, DPT, CWS, FACCWS

Michelle Broers, PT, DPT, CWS, FACCWS, facilitates the overall operation of the UofL Health – UofL Hospital – Burn Center by coordinating clinical, rehabilitation, telemedicine and outreach and prevention activities. She also oversees the burn registry, burn quality improvement and the burn verification process as UofL Hospital journeys toward American Burn Association Burn Center Verification.

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