Even if you’re in spectacular health, you risk personal injury on a daily basis. Since an injury can, in minor circumstances inconvenience you and, in major circumstances prevent you from studying or working, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and take the steps necessary to prevent yourself from becoming injured.
Steps for Injury Prevention
One of the biggest problems in injury prevention is the sheer number of things that could count as “injuries,” from stubbing your toe on your dresser in the morning to being sideswiped by a vehicle that’s lost control. Still, there are a handful of important tips that can prevent the majority of injuries you might otherwise face—or mitigate the severity of injuries you do sustain:
- Understand your risks. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, work to understand the risks of the situation. For example, driving to your friend’s house in perfect weather is inherently safer than driving to that same friend’s house in a winter storm. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid any activity that comes with a risk of injury—which would be incredibly boring—but it does mean you should be aware of the risks you face and take the appropriate precautions.
- Wear appropriate clothing and gear. You should also be wearing appropriate clothing and gear at all times, depending on the weather, your environment, and what activities you’re participating in. For example, winter weather demands you bundle up in layers to protect your body from frostbite, and biking demands you wear a helmet. Though not all clothes and gear are fashionable or very comfortable, they will protect you from severe injury in many cases.
- Use seatbelts and restraints. If you’re getting into a car, buckle up. Seatbelts can reduce the risk of death in a car accident by 45 percent, and reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. As if that incentive weren’t enough, you should know that buckling up is a legal requirement in many states. In other situations, use whatever restraints are available to you, and use them correctly to reduce your risk of injury.
- Keep in good shape. Being physically fit is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of injury on an ongoing basis. Being stronger, faster, and more flexible comes in handy in a number of situations, whether it’s recovering from losing your balance, supporting your efforts to lift a heavy object, or getting out of the way of a falling object in time. Plus, being physically fit can reduce your risk of several chronic ailments, including heart disease and diabetes.
- Warm up and stretch. If you’re going to work out or engage in a sports-related activity, take the time to warm up and stretch. It only takes a few minutes and could prevent you from tearing a ligament or tendon, or overstraining your muscles.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Along similar lines, be careful not to push yourself too hard in any activity. It may be tempting to lift more than your personal best or sprint up the stairs two at a time, but you should also be intimately knowledgeable about the physical limits of your body—and know where to draw the line.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. This is a commonly written warning sticker, but it’s popular for a reason; raising your situational awareness is invaluable in protecting yourself from injury. Injuries may arise as a direct result of your actions or the actions of others, so paying attention to other people’s patterns of behavior could spare you from unnecessary damage. Look out for behavior that could be threatening, or unexpected changes in your environment.
Responding to an Injury
No matter how well you protect yourself and reduce your risk of injury, you’re bound to face one eventually. Knowing how to respond is crucial to minimize damage:
- Understand your rights. First, understand your rights. If your personal injury was the result of another person’s negligence or intentional actions, they may be held responsible for the costs associated with your recovery.
- Seek safety first. If you’re in a position to be injured further, get to safety as soon as possible. For example, if you’re struck by a car, try to get out of the street or pull over to the side of the road before taking any further steps.
- Know who to contact. In some situations, you’ll want to call an emergency number. In others, you’ll want to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Know the difference, but err on the side of caution if you can’t decide. Quick treatment can be a deciding factor in your recovery for certain types of injuries.
- Apply first aid only if you know what you’re doing. Many people know basic first aid, but if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, or if you’ve only ascertained your knowledge by watching TV shows and movies, it’s best to wait and let a professional handle things.
Your injury prevention strategies don’t have to border on paranoia, and don’t have to significantly alter your life, but as you’ve seen, even a few small habit changes can drastically cut your risk of getting injured. Accordingly, these steps are well worth taking.
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