Home sweet home, if you're careful

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We are all familiar with how many injuries occur as the result of car accidents or participation in sports but few people realize how many injuries actually occur at home.

I learned the hard way unfortunately. I've always been very cautious of accidents that can occur at home especially with the neurological issues I deal with and I've had my share of falls because of it, even hitting my head. But accidents do happen. That's why they are called accidents.

Each year an estimated 5 to 10 million Americans suffer from injuries that happened at home. I spent my New Year's Eve at home nursing an injury that happened at home the day before. It was late in the afternoon and I was walking down the stairs. I was about five steps from the bottom when I slipped. I tried to stop myself but proceeded in hitting my rib cage on the newel post at the end of the staircase and landed on the floor.

It hurt so bad I was crying and trying to catch my breath at the same time. I knew I either bruised my rib or cracked it. Many years ago I cracked my rib coughing so I knew the pain. I didn't think it warranted a trip to the emergency room but I was in so much pain later that night I got a mere two hours of sleep sitting up in a recliner.

I did go to the urgent care the next day and learned thankfully that it was only bruised. But some people aren't so lucky when they get injured at home. According to the National Center for Disease Control in 1998 more than 10 million people were injured at home severely enough to go to the emergency room. The National Safety Council reports that 54,500 fatalities occurred in homes in 2008 as the result of injuries.

Some of the common injuries that occur at home happen as a result of cooking, using a lawn mower, ladder, candles and gardening and believe it or not many come from using the Nintendo Wii video game. A lot of the injuries from the Wii occur when using the remote control and result in being hit in the head with the remote.

Falls are the leading cause of injury related to death in people of all ages according to the CDC. Scalds, contact burns and electrical and chemical burns are frequent causes of nonfatal, non-fire injuries.

The top 10 fatal injuries that occur at home are from falls, poisonings, fires, suffocation and choking, drowning, firearms, cuts and piercings, gas leaks, being struck by an object and electrocution.

Approximately 95 percent of scalds occur in children five and younger and at least 75 Americans die daily from accidental poisoning.

So the moral of the story is be very careful when taking those Christmas lights off the house, try not to slip on the ice on the driveway, wear gloves while gardening to prevent spider bites, install carbon monoxide detectors and be careful when descending down the stairs!