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Accidents (unintentional injuries)

EMTs tending to person on a stretcher with view into the open back of the ambulance

Accidents, also called unintentional injuries, are the number three cause of death in the United States. They account for 1 of every 4 people treated in an emergency department.

Death can result from many types of accidents, such as:

  • Car accidents
  • Drug overdose
  • Falls
  • Fires

In many cases, accidental injury can be prevented. Here are just a few steps you can take to lower your risks:

  • Don’t drive when you feel sleepy. Don't drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, don't accept a ride with an impaired driver.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Drive the speed limit, and obey traffic laws.
  • Look for safety issues around your home, and fix or remove problems. Remove tripping hazards that can cause falls, such as cords or loose rugs.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are working.
  • Use the handrail when walking up or down stairs.
  • Use safety gear during sports activities, such as a helmet when biking.
  • Follow workplace safety guidelines and OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) standards.
  • Learn to swim.
  • Use care with ladders, power equipment, and chemicals when working around the home.

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More information on Accidents (unintentional injuries)

Explore other publications and websites

  • Injury Prevention and Control - This website links to fact sheets, publications, prevention information, and statistics about unintentional injury. Topics include motor vehicle-related injuries and fire safety.
  • Injury-Related Websites - This website provides information, resources, and organizations for those who have experienced a major injury. It also gives statistics on injury-related issues, tips on safety at home and on the road, and information about violence prevention.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety - This fact sheet provides a statistical look at the problem of drunk driving and drug-impaired driving. It highlights specific groups more likely to drive impaired and suggests ways to prevent death and injury.
  • SOPHE Unintentional Injury and Violence Prevention (Copyright © Society for Public Health Education) - This website is designed to strengthen the connection between behavioral science and health education with more comprehensive approaches to unintentional injury and violence prevention.

Connect with other organizations

Content last updated January 10, 2011.

Resources last updated January 10, 2011.

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