If you have not seen the television and other media ads from the folks at The Community for Preventable Injuries (‘Preventable’), you have not been paying attention. Inattention unfortunately, is also the cause of many injuries.
If you think serious injuries just “happen,” have a word with yourself because they don’t. They are often the direct result of choices we make — or don’t make. On average, more than 13,000 Canadians die and over 3 million are injured every year. Preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for British Columbians under the age of 44, killing over 2,000 people each year. Tragically, more children in British Columbia die from preventable injuries than all other causes combined.
Preventable has spent much time researching the causes of injury and even more about society’s attitudes to preventable injuries. The findings may surprise. It turns out that 90% of all injuries are predictable and preventable. Nonetheless, most people believe differently, that serious injuries are inevitable. Worse, at the same time they also believe “it won’t happen to me.”
Preventable is a registered not-for- profit organization now in its 7th year. Their first campaign was in 2010 and was called “Have a Word With Yourself.” That campaign proved the value of developing people’s awareness of injuries as distinctly not inevitable.
The goal of Preventable’s work is to raise awareness in all of us so as to reduce the human and financial burden of preventable injuries. And the group’s efforts are paying off. Since the launch of the first campaign there has been a significant reduction in deaths by injuries among their target audience of ages 25 to 55. More than that, their campaign to educate and influence has shown a positive shift in attitudes and behaviours towards preventable injuries across the entire B.C. population.
The messages from Preventable relate to safety in any number ways, and the messages could not be more clear. About falls: If you think falling from ladders only happens to other people, have a word with yourself. On the water: If you don’t think you’ll need a life jacket today, have a word with yourself; Before you think drowning only happens to other people, have a word with yourself; and Drinking and boating? Seriously?
Or consider road safety: Before deciding to text and drive, have a word with yourself. Pedestrians: You’re not expecting to be hit by a car today; and if you think the driver can see you, have a word with yourself.
Messages about head injury and concussion include: Before you think you can just shake off a concussion, have a word with yourself; and if you believe getting hit by a foul ball only happens to other people, have a word with yourself.
The organization strives to get us thinking about the risk and consequences of decisions we make, or not make: “We want to speak to that little part of you — that little voice inside your head — that knows that sometimes, bad things do happen.” The aim is to focus on that exact moment of risk when we are faced with a decision that could have a catastrophic effect on our lives. To learn more, visit Preventable
Written by Dr. Paul Martiquet, Medical Health Officer, Rural Vancouver Coastal Health including Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Sea-to- Sky, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.