(BALTIMORE, MD) – March 31, 2011 --Injuries are one of the most serious and expensive public health problems in Maryland, according to the Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Unlike other leading causes of death, injury is a risk for all age groups and often can be prevented. The Governor Martin O’Malley has pronounced April 4-10, 2011 as Public Health Week in Maryland.
“It takes only a moment for an injury to happen,” said DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D. “It only takes a moment to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”
During the week, DHMH encourages Marylanders to learn how to prevent injuries in recognition of this year’s theme, “Safety is NO Accident: Live Injury-Free.” Simple actions like buckling up and not using a cell phone while driving, or wearing a helmet while biking, can make everyone’s lives safer.
In Maryland, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System data shows that injuries are:
- The number one killer of children and young adults from 1-24-years-of-age
- The fifth leading killer of all ages combined
- Among the top ten causes of death for every age group
To visualize the impact of injuries in Maryland, the M&T Bank Stadium holds 68,915 people according to their website. In 2008, there were 514,603 injury-related hospital emergency department visits, 60,139 injury-related hospitalizations and 3,551 injury-related deaths in Maryland, according to DHMH's Injuries in Maryland Report. Added together, those people could fill the stadium eight Sunday afternoons!
These cases cost over $217 million in emergency department charges and $855 million in hospitalization, according to the DHMH's Injuries in Maryland Report. However, the injury burden goes beyond the hospital costs to include lost time from work and activities, and the additional cost of legal and rehabilitation services. Injuries also can leave a lifetime of physical and emotional scars among injured persons and their families.
Scientific studies have shown that most injuries are not accidental, unavoidable occurrences—but actually events that are preventable and predictable. You can protect yourself, your family and community by taking action to prevent injury and violence:
- check your home for potential hazards such as poor lighting and uneven surfaces to prevent falls
- understand and follow all workplace safety regulations and best practices
- wear a helmet and other properly fitted protective gear while playing sports
- wear a seat belt on every car trip, no matter how short
- make sure all children ride in appropriate and properly installed car seats
- work with school leaders to implement school violence and bullying programs
- do not text while driving
- change the batteries in your smoke alarm, install a carbon monoxide detector and have a fire escape plan
To learn more about how you can prevent injuries visit http://fha.maryland.gov/ohpetup/eip.cfm. For PHW activities in your area, contact your local health department or visit http://spdev.dhmh.md.gov:21115/SitePages/Home.aspx and click on Public Health Week under “Hot Topics.”