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Dangerous Behavior

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 15 in the September 3-4, 2005 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Wellness, Medical Matters

The interesting thing about a Coroner's work is that you don't need to make mistakes to learn things. There are plenty of opportunities to learn from other people's mistakes. I decided to take all this useful stuff out of the dusty archives and compile a list of risky behavior that I continue to see. I hope that in passing this list on to you, we can make the world a safer place to live.

1. Allowing children to swim unsupervised for more than seconds. Children should swim using the buddy system, and know how to summon help.

2. Drinking and Driving. Alcohol is still a major factor in many fatal car accidents.

3. Bicycle riding on busy roads. Our road system is simply not developed to the point of allowing bikes to share these busy roads with cars safely. Riding at night compounds the risk. I applaud all efforts by urban planners to include dedicated bike lanes in new developments, and encourage municipal councils to adopt and develop these suggestions. In the meantime, I see nothing but trouble when individual cyclists or groups of cyclists attempt to share narrow roads and lanes with large, fast moving chunks of metal, at times propelled by impaired operators.

4. Jogging on a busy road, especially on roads that allow the choice of pavement, packed gravel, grass or sidewalk. The struggle between ego and safety can be fatal. Pick the safe path. Your valiant efforts at fitness will continue to be noticed by busy drivers.

5. Failing to wear a seatbelt. Fatalities that involve ejection of unrestrained persons ruin my day all the time.

6. Standing outdoors to watch a thunderstorm. This makes as much sense as taking shelter under a tree during a lightning storm. Raindrops will only make you wet, but lightning can kill.

7. Waiting a few days with that chest pain before deciding it is not going away. Why not use that uncertain time to do some estate planning.

8. Attempting to operate problematic heavy industrial equipment without proper training or knowledge of the equipment can have deadly consequences.

9. Ignoring extreme weather warnings because they do not materialize every time. Every family should have an emergency plan in place. It is a rough guideline of what to do, where to meet, etc. in case of a disaster resulting from heavy snow, extreme heat, floods or tornadoes. Take the time to discuss general principles before disaster strikes.

As a new academic season begins, let's all make it a safe one.

Related resources:
Impaired Driving Facts from National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).
Alcohol Crash Stats from Canada Safety Council.
Drunk driving (United States) from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Is Cycling Dangerous? from Ken Kifer's Bike Pages. Tragically, Ken Kifer died on September 14, 2003 after being hit by a drunk driver just 6 miles from his home near Scottsboro, Alabama. He was 57 year old, and was riding his bicycle when he got hit.
Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections by Alan Wachtel and Diana Lewiston.
Cover story: Whose roads? Pedestrians and joggers can feel like intruders in the car culture by David Boyce, Almanac Staff Writer.
Summary and Conclusions: Lightning-related fatality, injury, and damage reports for the United States from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Unbelted Fatally And Seriously Injured Drivers - Canada, 1993 - 1997 from Transport Canada.
Safety Belt Statistics from James Madison University, Office of Public Safety, Harrisonburg, VA.
Seat Belt Statistics from Edgar Snyder & Associates®, A Law Firm Representing Injured People.
Where Do Children Drown? From PediatricSafety: One Ouch Is Too Many.
Family Disaster Plan - in PDF, 13 pages from The Red Cross.
Public Weather Warnings for Southern Ontario from Environment Canada.
U.S. Severe Weather Map from Weather Underground, Ann Arbor, MI.
How to Prepare for Disasters. Family Protection and Preparedness, from U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Illinois Extension Disaster Resources, Urbana, IL
Preparing for Severe Weather - Severe Weather Preparedness Series, from Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
Family Disaster Plan and Disaster Supply Kit from National Hurricane Center, NOAA.

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