The Odds of Dying: Perceived risk vs reality

June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council. It’s a time to think about reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, in our homes and in our communities. They’ve issued an interesting infographic on the Odds of Dying, noting that Americans often worry about the wrong things – check out the events we think will kill us vs. the ones that actually do, according to the numbers. (You can click for a bigger version).

If you’d like more detail on your personal odds, we have a prior post with a variety of mortality calculators to help you assess your own personal odds for longevity. They include life expectancy tables and a few interactive calculators. We leave you with two words: Life Insurance!


It’s Poison Prevention Month: Take the “Pill or Candy” Challenge

Even seemingly innocuous over the counter medication can be harmful to a child – test your own ability to spot the difference in this Pills or Candy interactive quiz — and if you pass Level 1, move on to Levels 2 and 3.
The point of the game is to raise awarness about how attractive medications can appear to toddlers. March is Poison Prevention Month, which has a goal of raising awareness of the dangers lurking in our homes. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines or household products while parents or caregivers were not looking. 90% of poison incidents happen at home in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry rooms; more than half of all incidents happen to kids under the age of 6.
Here are some household items to watch out for:

  • Medications, including over the counter drugs that seem innocuous
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bug sprays and pesticides
  • Paint and household maintenance items
  • Antifreeze and auto supplies
  • Batteries – especially the tiny easy-to-swallow button batteries
  • Single load laundry packets – colorful, soft, attractive
  • Cosmetics and perfumes
  • Arts, crafts & school supplies
  • Alcohol

The Label It Foundation reminds us that poisonings can happen to people of all ages – they offer a sheet that breaks down age groups and the most common types of accidental poisons for that age group.
Keep the Poison Control Emergency Number in a handy place in your home and on your smartphone For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222
Here are some resources. If you have kids, these will help you keep you do a home audit to ensure your kids are safe. Even if you don’t have kids, why not help spread awareness by posting infographics, fact sheets or games on your Facebook and Twitter pages?
Poison Prevention Fact Sheets
American Association of Poison Control Centers
Up and Away Campaign
Apps for Poison Control and Drug Reference
Poisons In Your Home Infographic
Kids Act So Fast – So do poisons Infographic

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks for 2012 Autos

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced its Top Vehicle Safety Picks for 2012. There are 18 new picks for a total of 115 winners in the following categories: 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans, and 3 pickups. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection.
Here’s a handy list of the 2012 Top Safety Picks with links to the ratings.
If you will be shopping for a new vehicle, you may also want to consult this list: Insurance Losses by Make & Model. And you will also want to talk to your local insurance agent.

Silent Running: Hybrid Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has weighed in on the safety risks of driving hybrid and electric vehicles. Their conclusion was that hybrid and electric vehicles are more hazardous to pedestrians and cyclists. Electric engines are near silent compared to combustion engines and don’t give the same audible warning as previous cars, especially when traveling at low speeds. Children and the visually impaired are often cited as being the most at risk, and the low noise engines are reported to be putting many pedestrians at higher risk of an automobile collision.
Although new technologies can usher in new risks, moving vehicles have always posed dangers to pedestrians. In 1899, Henry Bliss was run over by an electric cab, giving him the dubious distinction of being the first US auto fatality. But in the same era, horse drawn carriages were taking quite a toll: In New York in1900, 200 pedestrians were killed by horse drawn carriages.
Car manufacturers are reacting to the new threat by adding artificial sounds to hybrid vehicles to warn pedestrians. The Nissan Leaf EV now makes “wooshing” sounds despite its near silent engine, and Ford held a Facebook poll for users to vote on which artificial engine noise their new car should make, having posted a series of potential noises on YouTube. The noises ranged from more traditional engine sounds to futuristic spaceship noises. These fake engine noises are still being rolled out so they may not stick around since reactions appear to be mixed.
While the ostensible danger of silent vehicles is to pedestrians, drivers can also be at risk of not hearing a hybrid, increasing the potential for collisions. Plus, responsible drivers need to be hyper vigilant about the safety implications for pedestrians. Striking a pedestrian is a highly traumatic event that can result in injury or death. Depending on fault, it can also result in criminal charges or lawsuits. The liability portion of your auto insurance offers some financial protection should you strike a pedestrian. According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability insurance is compulsory in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Only New Hampshire does not have a compulsory auto insurance liability law. The chart on this page offers a breakdown of minimal liability limits for auto insurance by state.
If you live in New England and have questions about your auto insurance coverage, why not connect with a Renaissance Alliance insurance agent near you?

A good summer safety plan: Don’t be a lightning strike victim!

June 19 to June 25 is Lightning Safety Week. It’s good timing because we are approaching the heaviest lightning season. Hopefully, we’ve already had our fill of extreme weather this year, but there are no guarantees. In an average year, there are 57 fatal lightning strikes, most occurring in June, July and August. There have been 4 lightning fatalities so far this year – three of them occurring during agricultural work and one related to tornado search-and-rescue. The National Weather Service keeps track of lightning fatalities for the current year, as well as for prior years going back to 1959. Last year, there were 29 fatalities, a remarkably low year. The top 5 states for lightning fatalities over the past 10 years are Florida (62), Colorado (26), Texas (24), Georgia (19), and North Carolina (18).
Not everyone who is struck by lightning is killed – many survive to tell the tale. You can read some harowing stories of lightning strike survivors – there’s even a support group: Lightning Strike & Electric Shock Survivors.
Your odds of being hit by lightning are about 1 in 700,000 – but experts all agree that you should take care not to make yourself a target. For a little motivation, you might visit Human Voltage, a page that NASA compiled to document what happens when people and lightning converge.
The National Weather Service has 5 simple words of safety advice: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!. We’re reprinting Here is their safety advice:

“There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.

The best way to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply don’t want to be caught outside in a storm. Have a lightning safety plan, and cancel or postpone activities early if thunderstorms are expected. Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place before the weather becomes threatening. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.

When inside, do not touch anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet, plumbing, and corded phones. Cell phones and cordless phones are safe. Also, keep away from outside doors and windows and do not lie on a garage floor.

Lightning Victims: If someone is struck by lightning, they may need immediate medical attention. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Call 911 and monitor the victim. Start CPR or use an Automated External Defibrillator if needed.”

Additional resources:
Indoor Safety
Outdoor Safety
Lightning Safety on the Job
Lightning truths and myths