Unintentional injury is a major public health problem in the United States. It is the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 1 and 44, and is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. In Arizona, we seem to have more than our fair share of deaths resulting from accidents. We have the third highest rate in the country!
The State of Home Safety in America (2004) is a study commissioned by the Home Safety Council. Results show that unintentional home injuries are a much more serious issue than many Americans may realize. According to the report, unintentional injuries at home result in an average of nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits each year. Not surprisingly, children and older adults are the two most vulnerable groups for most types of unintentional home injuries.
So why does Arizona have a comparably high rate of deaths resulting from unintentional injury? The study doesn't go that far. If I had to guess, it's probably that we spend more time outside and around the house, more time hiking, more time around swimming pools, and have a high percentage of people in the most vulnerable age groups: seniors and young children.
Here are the numbers. These represent incidents between 1992 and 1999. The first set of numbers represents Arizona deaths, and the second set is for the country as a whole. In the "other" category, some examples are accidental death by firearms, deaths in nature ( e.g. lightening) or being accidentally struck or cut with something.
Falls: 142 deaths, ranks 8th in the U.S.
Poisonings: 159 deaths, ranks 2nd in the U.S
Fires/Burns: 38 deaths, ranks 40th in the U.S.
Drownings: 28 deaths, ranks 2nd in the U.S.
Choking/Suffocations: 31 deaths, ranks 2nd in the U.S.
Other: 45 deaths, ranks 16th in the U.S.
All Causes: 443 deaths, ranks 3rd in the U.S.
Falls: 5,961 deaths
Fires/Burns: 4,833 deaths
Poisonings: 3,402 deaths
Drownings: 1,092 deaths
Suffocations: 823 deaths
Other: 1,937 deaths
All Causes: 18,408 deaths
The study provided some interesting facts about each category:
Falls accounted for one-third of all unintentional home injury deaths, more than 40 percent of nonfatal unintentional injuries, and more than one-third of all nonfatal home injuries resulting in emergency department care. Seventeen percent of fall deaths were associated with stairs or steps.
Poisonings were the second leading cause of home injury fatality, resulting in approximately one fourth of all home injury deaths. The highest rates of poisoning deaths were among males age 30-49, with nearly one-fourth of poisoning deaths being associated with heroin. Additionally, 22 percent of poisoning deaths were related to central appetite depressants (i.e., drugs used primarily for weight loss).
Fires and burns were the third leading cause of home injury death, with 90 percent of the fatalities and 57 percent of nonfatal injuries occurring in the home. The rates of fire and burn fatalities were highest among older adults (60+) followed by children younger than five.
Choking and Suffocation
Deaths from choking and suffocation ranked fourth among unintentional home injury fatalities. One-third of the home fatalities due to choking or suffocation were associated with food, while 16 percent were the result of suffocations in beds or bedding. The highest death rates due to choking and suffocation were among children less than five years of age and adults 70 and older.
Drownings and Submersions
Nationally, drownings were the fifth leading cause of unintentional home injury death, with at least one-third of the unintentional home drownings occurring in bathtubs. Children younger than five had the highest rates of all age groups.
The data and information contained in this article was provided by the Home Safety Council.