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Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 1 to 44 years old. They are the third leading cause of death overall, with nearly half of these injuries due to motor vehicle accidents. American Indian and Alaska Native people have some of the highest injury rates of any racial group:

  • Adult car-related death rates are three times higher than for whites, and almost two times as high as African-Americans.
  • Fire-related death rates are almost two times higher than for whites.
  • Drowning rates are nearly three times higher than for whites and more than two times higher than for African-Americans.

In many cases, accidental injury can be prevented. Here are just a few steps you can take to lower your risk of injury, and even death:

  • Don't drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while sleepy. 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 hazards. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Remove tripping hazards that can cause falls, such as cords or loose rugs.
  • Use the handrail on 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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Content last updated: May 18, 2010.

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