In light of National Public Health Week highlighting the contributions of public health systems with the aim of educating the nation about what public health is and does, today’s theme focuses on how public health efforts protect you while you’re on the move. State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess said the increased use of seatbelts is a perfect example of a public health victory, citing the increase of more than 74 percentage points in the regular use of seatbelts from 1981 to 2010.
Comprehensive trauma care systems are another way lives are saved, cutting down on the number one killer of Hoosiers under the age of 45: traumatic injury. More than 32,000 Hoosiers are hospitalized each year from injuries, making it the fifth most common killer of Hoosiers of all ages.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s Trauma and Injury Prevention division is currently traveling around the state to provide guidance and education to the emergency medical service community about the importance of data collection and other aspects of trauma care. The department offers the following safety tips to protect you while traveling:
- Don’t text and drive. Not only is it illegal in Indiana, it can be deadly. Learn more at www.distraction.gov/.
- Always wear a helmet when on a motorcycle or bicycle.
- Be an alert pedestrian and be mindful at intersections.
- Find out the proper vehicle restraint systems for your child depending on his or her weight, height and age. For example, infants and toddlers through age 2 should be placed in rear-facing child safety seats, while children ages 2 to 4 should be placed in forward-facing child safety seats.
- Get involved with efforts to promote safe biking and walking to school. Learn about the Indiana Safe Routes to School Partnership at www.healthbydesignonline.org/INSRTS.html
- If possible, walk or bike to daily destinations, such as to work or the grocery store. Choosing biking or walking over driving is an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your life. States with the highest levels of biking and walking also have the lowest levels of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
- Support complete streets policies. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users; pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.
- Where complete streets are in place, alternative modes of transportation such as walking and biking are more attractive and safety is improved for all users. Being physically active promotes a healthy lifestyle and can decrease chronic diseases and obesity.