From the Harford County Health Department:
From April 4th through the 8th during National Public Health Awareness Week, the Harford County Health Department joins the American Public Health Association (APHA) by encouraging all Americans to work together to make our county and our nation safer and injury-free through the theme, “Safety is No Accident: Live Injury Free.”
Harford County Health Officer, Susan Kelly states, “It only takes a moment for an injury to result from a fall on a stair, a moment’s glance away from the road, a biking or sports related injury, or a medication mix up. But it also takes just a moment to protect against injuries and to make communities safer. The intent of National Public Health Week is to bring into the public consciousness an opportunity to empower our families, friends, neighbors, and perhaps most importantly, ourselves to live safer lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30% of potential years of life are lost because of injuries that could have been prevented and, overall, injuries account for 12% of medical care spending. “We are met with a real and growing public health problem,” says Ms. Kelly, “and failure to address the issues related to injury and violence, the toll of which is measured in lives lost and health care dollars spent, will only get worse in the years to come. Fortunately, we know that most injuries can be prevented. If everyone wore a seatbelt, properly installed and used child safety seats, donned appropriate protective wear and stored cleaning supplies in locked cabinets, we could dramatically reduce the burden of leading injuries in this country and save lives.”
Although it’s not something we plan for, the potential for injury is all around us, and it (injury) is the most expensive medical problem in the United States. In a single year, as much as $80 billion will be spent on medical care; another $326 billion on lost productivity in addition to the untold amount on social support for the individuals and families caring for the severely injured. In many cases, these costs are increasing because preventative measures are not being taken to prevent injuries and violence. Furthermore, every day in the U.S., about 75 people die as a result of unintentional poisoning, and another 2,000 are treated in emergency departments.
States Ms. Kelly, “The chances are good that you or someone you know are among these statistics. You might have suffered a serious burn or laceration in the kitchen or the workshop, a friend might have suffered a fatal injury from a car crash, an elderly family member broke a bone from a fall, or a co-worker was harmed on the job site. It only takes a moment for an injury to occur . . . a fall on a stair, a poisoning, a drowning in an unsupervised water area, a fall off a bicycle, not wearing a seatbelt or an incorrectly installed child safety seat, walking without being aware of your surroundings, a quick glance away from the road while driving. All are examples of preventable injury or death.”
However, she’s also quick to remind the public that often it takes just a moment to prevent injuries and make our lives and communities safer. Injuries are seldom “accidents” and with simple steps we can stop them before they happen.
During the week, county health departments across Maryland will be conducting awareness activities. In Harford County, poison prevention will be promoted in the Harford County Health Department’s WIC programs and in their Edgewood dental clinic, injury prevention messages and links will be posted to the Health Department’s website and a proclamation will be issued to the department. In addition, throughout the month of April, the Health Department’s recent Public Health Matters video segment on the topic of Prescriptive Drug Abuse Prevention will debut on Harford Cable Network while HCN also will feature injury prevention PSA’s and other informational viewing materials.
Each April since 1995, communities across the country have celebrated this observance the first week of April by highlighting public health achievements and raising awareness of issues important to improving the public’s health. “National Public Health Week helps educate Americans about ways to live healthier lives. The events that take place this year will help construct an America that is more aware of how to prevent injuries and violence,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. “Our ultimate goal is to make America the healthiest nation in one generation. Taking simple steps within our families and our communities will help prevent injuries and therefore create safer places to live.”
For more information about injury prevention or National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org. or visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.