Hazard Brief: Unintentional Injuries

Unintentional injuries continue to be the fifth leading cause of death overall, and the leading cause of death for those under 35 years of age. Two-thirds of deaths caused by injuries are considered unintentional.

  • Child Safety The top three causes of fatal unintentional injuries include motor vehicle crashes (42%), falls (15%), and poisoning (14%).
  • Among infants (under one year), suffocation is the leading mechanism of unintentional injury death among infants.
  • Falls were the primary reason for unintentional injury deaths among those ages 75 years and older.
  • Falls were the second leading reason of unintentional injury deaths among people 65 to 74 years.

In order to protect you and your family, a thorough safety check of every room in your home should be conducted on a regular basis. Unintentional accidents, injuries, and non-traumatic emergencies may be prevented and your family will be healthier and safer when you practice a little prevention. Here are a few precautions to get your family on a safe track.

Smoke detector safety Install smoke detectors in your home. Check and change the batteries regularly, at least twice every year. Keep working fire extinguishers in the kitchen and near heat sources, and be sure you know how to use them. If you have a fireplace, wood burning stove, or other heat source, place barriers around it to avoid accidental burns. Inspect and clean chimneys and stovepipes regularly. Keep matches and lighters secured away from children. Never leave a candle burning unattended even for a moment, and never smoke in bed. A home should have two unobstructed exits, in case of fire or other emergency.

Secure all medications, toiletries, household cleaners, automotive products, gardening products, solvents, or any other substance toxic to children and pets in locked cabinets.

Secure top heavy items. Make sure heavy items are secured so they cannot be tipped over. Secure shelving and items on walls to prevent them from falling due to an earthquake, hurricane or tornado.

Observe strict swimming pool safety. If you have a backyard swimming pool, make sure it is protected with a fence and locking gate. Cover the pool with a secured surface cover any time it is not in use. Never, ever leave a child or anyone who is not a strong swimmer unattended in a pool, even for a moment. Never leave a child or disabled person unattended in a bathtub, or in a bathroom where there is a tub, sink, or bucket containing water.

Post emergency telephone numbers near each telephone in the home, and store the numbers in your cell phone. Include numbers to the Poison Control Center and a 24-hour veterinary clinic, and non-emergency numbers for fire, law enforcement, and ambulance services.

The PrepareWell Family Safety Plan contains hundreds of tips, resources and solutions to keep your family safe. 

For additional information, visit:

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Methodist Hospitals Household Safety Checklist
Centers for Disease Control