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Injury & Violence Prevention

Safety Tips


FireworksFireworks Safety

Fireworks-related injuries are most common on and around holidays associated with fireworks celebrations, especially July 4th and New Year's Eve. Each year, nearly 200 people are treated in emergency departments in S.C. emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks.

The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them!
  • Use fireworks outdoors only and always have water handy (a hose or buckets of water).
  • Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.
  • Use common sense when using fireworks. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the person lighting the fireworks, and the person lighting should wear safety glasses.
  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket—the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and other flammable substances.
  • Light one firework at a time. Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated” person who is not drinking light the fireworks.
  • Only people over age 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives—they can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can because they may still be ignited.

Remember fireworks can cause serious injuries including burns and contusions. If you are injured by fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.

Enjoy your holidays with your family and take precautions when lighting fireworks at home! [Please watch Safety Video at]

Source: The National Council on Fireworks Safety and US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Woman at fireplace. - Photo credit - CDC/Richard Duncan 1994 CO is often called a silent killer – it is an odorless, invisible gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled. CO can be produced by any device or appliance that burns fuel such as gasoline, kerosene, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, or methane, and CO can build up rapidly in enclosed and partially enclosed spaces. Potential CO sources include generators, charcoal and gas grills, gas stoves, oil and gas fired furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters, and motor vehicles.

If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly with adequate ventilation, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Many CO poisoning incidents occur in winter when existing heating sources are inadequate, unavailable or malfunctioning, and during power outages following disasters such as hurricanes and ice storms. Injuries and deaths due to CO exposure are completely preventable.

According to DHEC data, from 1999 to 2009, 48 people in South Carolina died due to unintentional exposure to CO (not including those who died from CO poisoning as a result of house fires).

Take the following steps to protect you and your loved ones from CO poisoning:

  • Have your gas or oil fired heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Have your chimney, fireplace, and wood stoves, and flues inspected before every heating season and have chimneys and flues repaired as needed.
  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
  • If the CO detector alarm sounds, leave your home or affected area immediately and call 911.
  • Ventilate the room every time you use a kerosene space heater, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions for any space heater.
  • NEVER use a portable generator, charcoal or gas grill, camp stove, improperly vented heater, or other gas or coal burning device inside your home, basement, or garage, or outside near an open window or door.
  • Do not use your oven for heating your home.
  • Do not leave your vehicle’s engine running in an enclosed or attached garage. If you must warm up a vehicle, move it out of the garage immediately after starting.
  • If conditions in your home are too cold and unsafe, seek shelter with friends, relatives, or a winter weather shelter in your area.
  • Do not expose pets and farm animals to CO.
  • Be aware of CO exposure risks at work, school, church, and other places away from home.
  • Recognize CO poisoning. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, move everyone to an area with fresh air and call 911 and the Palmetto Poison Center (1-800-222-1222).

For more information on CO and CO poisoning prevention, please see the following:

Don't Let Falls Get You Down: Take Control

A grandfather fishing with his grandkids.Falls remain the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injury for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

Get the Facts.

  • Every 1 out of 3 adults age 65 and older fall each year.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury deaths among people age 65 and older.
  • Most hip fractures are caused from a fall, and falls are the main cause of traumatic brain injuries among older adults.
  • Fall-related injuries among older adults account for nearly 7,000 hospitalizations and almost 25,000 emergency room visits in South Carolina in one year.
  • In 2009, 171 South Carolinians age 65 and older died as a result of a fall.

Are You At Risk?

  • The chance of falling and being seriously injured from a fall increase with age.  As people get older, they are more likely to fall.  The 85 and older age-group is at the greatest risk for falling. 
  • People who are not physically active are more likely to fall.
  • Older adults are at greater risk for dying from a fall.  
  • People who are afraid of falling or who have fallen in the past are more likely to fall.

4 Things YOU Can Do to Prevent Falls:

  1. Begin a regular exercise program.  It’s important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance.
  2. Have your doctor review your medicines.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to reduce side effects and interactions that may cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  3. Have your vision checked. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to improve your vision.
  4. Make your home safer (pdf).  Remove throw rugs and clutter that might cause you to trip.  Add grab bars in your bathroom and railings on your stairways.  Use brighter light bulbs to improve the lighting in your home.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Take Control!

Learn more about Life Improvement Programs to help you stay active, do the things you want to do, and prevent falls.  Call (803) 898-0760 or visit to find a workshop near you or contact your local County Council on Aging. 


Bicycle Safety

Child wearing a bicycle helmetAccording to DHEC data, in the years 2005 to 2007, South Carolina had 49 deaths and 360 non-fatal injuries due to bicyclists being struck by motorized vehicles. Compared to other states in the US, South Carolina is one of the most risky places to ride a bicycle according to data provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). South Carolina has ranked in the top ten among states in the US with the highest per capita bicycle fatality rate for the last decade. For many of those years, the per capita bicycle fatality rate has more than doubled the national average.

Here are some following steps to protect you and your love ones while riding a bicycle in the roadways:

  • Protect your head. Wear a properly fitted helmet.
  • Before each ride check that tires are properly inflated, brakes work, and the wheels aren't loose.
  • Always wear shoes while riding a bicycle.
  • Ride a bike that is the right size for you.
  • Carry no passengers (except children riding in approved baby seats).
  • Wear bright colored clothing and, if riding at night, place reflective stickers or patches on clothing and/or bicycle so drivers will see you.
  • In low light conditions use a white front and red rear reflector lights that projects at least 500 feet to the front of bicycle and 50 feet to 300 feet in the rear.
  • When exiting a driveway, stop, look left, look right, look left again, and exit only when there is no traffic.
  • Stay alert. Always keep a lookout for obstacles in your path.
  • Ride on the RIGHT with the flow of traffic, in a single file.
  • Stop at all STOP signs and all traffic lights.
  • Do not ride in the wrong direction on one-way streets.
  • Use proper hand signals to indicate turns.
    • Left Turn - extend left arm straight out
    • Right Turn - extend left arm, bend elbow up at a 90-degree angle
    • Stop - extend left arm, bend elbow down at a 90-degree angle
  • Give the right of way to pedestrians.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Playground Safety Tips

  • Improve adult supervision of children on playgrounds.
  • Educate the public about age-appropriate playground equipment.
  • Build playgrounds with surfaces - such as shredded rubber, wood chips, wood fiber, and sand - that reduce injuries related to falls.
  • Improve maintenance of equipment and surfacing.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention