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 Prevent Accidents 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by . View all columns in series

Commonsense safety is easily overlooked as an integral part of a personal wellness program. A person may exercise extreme caution about diet, yet be quite lax in attending to accident prevention.

Most accidents — both in the home and on the road — are easily preventable. No training is needed to put on a seat belt in the car or to buckle up young children in a car seat, but these simple gestures can save lives and dramatically decrease the chances of severe injury. It only takes a minute to ask your doctor or pharmacist to check your prescription and over-the-counter medications for possible adverse drug interactions. Over half of all prescriptions dispensed annually are taken incorrectly, and drug errors account for increasing numbers of deaths in hospitals and nursing homes. You already know many ways to prevent accidents, since most of it is basic good sense. Yet the complications and pressures of modern life may cause you to put these safety precautions low on your list of priorities. The memory jogger below encourages you to take action where you need it.

A Safety Survey
Jot down what you already know about each of the items listed below, or go over this list with your spouse, your children, or a friend, and use it as a basis for discussion.

What I know about safety and wellness with regard to:

  • icy sidewalks and steps
  • the use and maintenance of stairs and handrails
  • slippery floors and movable area rugs
  • wet, slippery surfaces, especially bathtubs
  • children’s access to prescription or over-the-counter drugs
  • out-of-date prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs
  • seat belts and air bags
  • automobile tires, wiper blades, and antilock brakes
  • car seats for children
  • the speed limit
  • driving or operating machinery while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • escape plans in case of fire either at home or away
  • overloaded, improperly fused electrical outlets
  • poorly protected electrical wires
  • the use of electrical equipment near water
  • space heaters
  • storing cleaning products, medicines, and poisons in homes where children live or visit
  • using household cleaning products and pesticides that contain toxic substances
  • emergency phone numbers
  • the accessibility of first-aid supplies
  • first-aid skills for choking, burns, shock, and so on
  • protection from high sound and noise levels
  • safe disposal of paints, paint thinners, gasoline, and oil
  • children’s toys

This list is not comprehensive. It is a place to start. We suggest that you add to it by taking a slow walk through and around your home, looking for safety hazards. Make notes about what needs to be done to make your home safe. Check off items that need attention soon. Prioritize your checked items. Take a calendar and assign, in order of priority, one or more items to this week and one or more items to each week thereafter, until all obvious potential hazards have been handled.

If you need more information about any of the items on your list, your public library is an excellent resource. Consult the front pages of your phone book, which should have a survival guide and a list of emergency phone numbers. Call your local Red Cross for information about safety training.

Reprinted with permission, from Simply Well by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan. Copyright 2001. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA.

The online version of Dr. Travis' Wellness Inventory may be accessed at ( The Wellness Inventory may also be licensed by coaches, health and wellness professionals and organizations.

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 About The Author
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of ...moreJohn Travis MD, MPH
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