Americans' Pessimistic View of Accident Prevention Poses Hurdle to Reducing Injuries, Survey Says

Monday, October 15, 2007 General News
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CHICAGO, Oct. 15 Nearly one in every three Americansbelieves nothing can be done to prevent accidental injuries, posing a majorobstacle to national efforts to reverse escalating injury trends in the UnitedStates, according to a national survey of American attitudes on safety issuesreleased today by the National Safety Council at its annual safety and healthmeeting here.

This finding comes on the heels of an NSC injury report in June showingthat accidental deaths and injuries are climbing and at current rates couldhit an all-time high in the next few years if public action isn't taken toreverse the trend.

Despite this pessimistic view on prevention, 58 percent of Americansbelieve accidental injuries are a serious public health concern, and 46percent ranked accidental injuries as the greatest risk to their health andwell-being, as opposed to less than 25 percent who ranked violent crime as thegreatest risk.

"We're encouraged that Americans recognize accidental injuries as a majorconcern in their everyday lives," said NSC President and CEO Alan C. McMillan."However, this survey clearly shows that we have our work cut out for us ineducating Americans about how to prevent injuries from ever occurring."

For example, NSC data shows that poisoning -- particularly from overdosesof prescription and illicit drugs -- is now the fastest-rising cause ofaccidental death, with major increases among working age adults.

Once a leading cause of death among children, today the death rate frompoisoning for children under 6 years of age is just 0.4 per 100,000. Yet,survey results show that most people (81 percent) believe children are atgreatest risk for poisoning, while less than 4 percent said adults. When askedto rank potential causes of poisoning, 53 percent said household chemicalswere most commonly associated with fatal poisoning while 34 percent pointed todrugs and medicine.

"It's clear people don't understand what is really happening in theirhomes and communities, which detracts from efforts to reduce injuriesincluding deaths from poisonings," said McMillan. "The fact is, we can controlthe risks of accidental deaths through education, and where we have buy-infrom individuals, organizations, businesses and communities, the rate ofaccidental injuries decreases."

The survey also indicates that the nation is receptive to safety advocacyefforts. A majority of the respondents believe they can act to preventaccidents, and three-quarters (76 percent) say their companies are concernedabout injury prevention at work. This focus on occupational safety isreflected in a 17 percent decline in the workplace accidental death rate since1992.

Respondents also expressed confidence in their employers' ability to dealwith emergency situations in the workplace. Sixty-one percent of respondentsbelieve their employer is prepared to deal with emergency situations, comparedwith their family, at 57 percent, and their community, at 50 percent.

"These are positive developments that reinforce the Council's commitmentto work with employers to safeguard employees and their families where theyare at greatest risk -- in their homes and communities," McMillan said.

Asked what precautions they have taken in their homes to prepare for anemergency, 84 percent of respondents said they have one or more smokedetectors, 63 percent have one or more first aid kits, and 46 percent havelooked for and corrected hazardous areas or situations around the house.

One disturbing trend is that only 25 percent have taken a firstaid/CPR/AED class in the last two years despite that fact the heart disease isthe leading cause of death in the nation and 75-80 percent of cardiac arrestsoccur in homes.

Automobile accidents continue to be the leading cause of accidentaldeaths, although rates have declined in recent years as the NSC and


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