by: Tara Grenier, M.Sc., CAT(C)

In my previous article, I spoke of the importance of staying home and off the roads as much as possible in order to minimize road injuries during the Covid-19 pandemic.  But staying home and in the surrounds does not eliminate the risk of injuries.  As the old wives tale states: “accidents happen close to home.”  Only in trauma, we choose not to use the word “accident” as it has an undertone that the event is not preventable. Therefore we use more precise words such as fall, collision, crash, ect.  Research estimates that over 90% of injuries are preventable.  So here are several tips that can help keep you safe.

Taking care of yourself

Mental Health

While social distancing and isolation is helpful in slowing the spread of Covid-19, it is not constructive for morale.  Getting together with friends and family can uplift your spirits.  With several restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic, many people who were already struggling with depression, may now be in an even worse place.  Hearing all the news and seeing the effects of the virus on peoples’ lives has an impact on us all.  Many people who have never experienced anxiety or depression may now face these consuming thoughts.  These can lead to a feeling of despair.

It is important not to lose contact with friends and family.  You need to socialize with friend and family as much as possible via phone, social media and video.  Make sure you stay active.  Set aside time to exercise 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes per session.  It doesn’t have to be intense.  Just get moving.  I personally choose to listen to guided meditation videos.  You can specify the topics for: relaxation, breathing or anxiety.  Find a video that you like and stick to it.  Yoga can be a useful activity as it combines breathing, stretching, strengthening, and meditation.

Domestic violence

Being confined to the same house as a significant other during this time may lead to frustration, irritation and even anger.  Those already in domestic violence situations may see a rise in violent behaviour.  For others, this time may bring out feelings that can usually be managed through other activities.  With many outlets no longer available, we may become the target of violence.  So be aware of the red flags.

Staying fit and having fun

Being confined to your home is not an easy task.  Cabin fever soon sets along with the urge to find things to do outdoors.

Wheeled sports and activities

If you pull out the bicycles, skateboard, skates, scooters, hover boards, wear the appropriate protective gear, a helmet and be cautious. Your wheels can catch a patch of sand or a pothole. Our trauma data shows that cars are only involved in about 30% of bike injuries.

Water Safety

The majority of deaths by drowning occur in natural bodies of water such as a lakes and rivers. However, with many of these being restricted due to the pandemic, we need to be more vigilant around pools.  Mixing alcohol and swim time is not a great idea.  Searching for something fun to do by jumping from the rooftop is not a great idea.  Many people are paralyzed yearly as a result of water related injuries.

Walking

As you go out for walks around the block, make sure you are visible and wear bright colors.  When there are no sidewalks, walk in the opposite direction than the flow of traffic so that you can see the cars coming and have time to move out of the way.  Sometimes sun glare can prevent the driver from seeing you.  In the evening, be sure to wear something reflective or a piece of clothing with something reflective on it.  It allows the cars to see you well in advance.

Around home – safety measures to discuss with your family

Reno injuries

Being confined to your home may have inspired you or your family to do some home renovation projects.  Be sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and proper footwear while working.  Keep the area you are working in clean and free from debris.  If you have power tools make sure the wires are secure and out of the way.

Ladder safety

With the warmer weather fast approaching, spring cleaning is on many families’ agenda. Think twice before pulling out those ladders to get to the top of windows or gutters.  Try putting off all unnecessary tasks.  If you insist on getting things done, consider hiring a professional once they are allowed back to work.

But if you must use a ladder, here is what you need to know.  Be sure your ladder is secure and steady.  Make sure that nothing is in the area around the ladder in case of a fall.  Stay within the width of the ladder and avoid reaching out to the side, as it risks tipping over.  If it is a straight frame ladder, be sure that for every 4 units of the ladder from the base to the top secure point, you put the base of the ladder out 1 unit. In other words, if your ladder is 16 feet and the top of the ladder is leaning on the house, make sure that the base of the ladder is at least 4 feet away from the wall.  Never stand on the top step.

Yard work

When you or your family work in the yard with tools, make sure to put them away immediately after you are done.  Forgotten tools make cause you to trip and injure yourself.  Beware of electrical lines, and keep all equipment at least 10 feet away from them.  If your trees need a trimming, hire professionals when they are out of reach.  Never attempt to cut trees that are close to power lines; this should be reserved for hydro workers.  If you are using electrical tools, be sure to secure the electrical cord out of harm’s way and beware of puddles.

 

Other articles

If you would like any other safety tips, feel free to write us at codetrauma@muhc.mcgill.ca

For information regarding injury prevention, keep checking for more of our articles.  Please share on social media so you can help us make a difference.

Suggested article:

Covid-19: Injuriers and Safety. Why Staying home and off the roads are so important 

Why we call the car crashes, not accidents

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