INDIANAPOLIS—This week is National Public Health Week, an annual observance that highlights the contributions of public health systems and aims to educate the nation about what public health is and does. Today’s theme focuses on how public health efforts protect you while you're on the move.
“The increased use of seatbelts is a great example of a public health victory,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “For example, from 1981 to 2010, seatbelt use rose from 11 percent to about 85 percent and has saved thousands of lives.”
Having a comprehensive trauma care system is another way lives are saved. The number one killer of Hoosiers under the age of 45 is traumatic injury. More than 32,000 Hoosiers are hospitalized each year from injuries, which is the fifth most common killer of Hoosiers of all ages. The Indiana State Department of Health’s Trauma and Injury Prevention division is currently traveling around the state to provide guidance and education to the emergency medical service community about the importance of data collection and other aspects of trauma care. To learn more, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.
So, what can you do to protect yourself while on the move? Follow these safety tips:
· Don’t text and drive. Not only is it illegal in Indiana, it can be deadly. Learn more at www.distraction.gov/.
· Always wear a helmet when on a motorcycle or bicycle.
· Be an alert pedestrian and be mindful at intersections.
· Find out the proper vehicle restraint systems for your child depending on his or her weight, height and age. For example, infants and toddlers through age 2 should be placed in rear-facing child safety seats, while children ages 2 to 4 should be placed in forward-facing child safety seats.
· Get involved with efforts to promote safe biking and walking to school. Learn about the Indiana Safe Routes to School Partnership at www.healthbydesignonline.org/INSRTS.html
· If possible, walk or bike to daily destinations, such as to work or the grocery store. Choosing biking or walking over driving is an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your life. States with the highest levels of biking and walking also have the lowest levels of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
· Support complete streets policies. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users; pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.
Where complete streets are in place, alternative modes of transportation such as walking and biking are more attractive and safety is improved for all users. Being physically active promotes a healthy lifestyle and can decrease chronic diseases and obesity.
Health by Design is a coalition of partners throughout Indiana working to ensure that communities around the state have neighborhoods, public spaces and transportation infrastructure that promote physical activity and healthy living.
“Complete Streets policies are an excellent tool for improving transportation safety, accessibility and health for all Hoosiers, regardless of if they typically travel by foot, bike, bus or car,” said Kim Irwin, who coordinates Health by Design. “We commend the 10 Indiana communities who have already adopted Complete Streets policies and are excited to be working with many other cities and towns who plan to do so in the year ahead.”
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org.
For more information about Health by Design, visit www.healthbydesignonline.org/.
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.