Are you safe? Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t as safe as they think. In 2014, 136,000 Americans died accidentally, according to the American Safety Council. Accidental overdoses have overtaken car crashes as the No. 1 killer of Americans, and deaths from falls are up 63 percent over the last decade due to an aging population. Meanwhile, one in 36 U.S. homes will be burglarized this year, according to FBI data. And a record 15.4 million U.S. consumers became victims of identity theft last year, a Javelin Strategy & Research report found.
Safety risks lurk everywhere. Fortunately, taking proactive steps can mitigate the most common safety threats. Here are reasons why you should be more safety-conscious, along with some tips to help you stay safe:
Reasons to Be Safety-Conscious
The first reason to be more safety-conscious is to protect your health. Many American have unsafe dietary habits - let's take a look at some numbers:
One in five adults failing to eat vegetables every day, and four in 10 neglect to eat fruit daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Half of U.S. adults don’t get enough aerobic exercise, says the Department of Health and Human Services.
As a result of these and other poor health habits, one in three Americans has at least one cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Second, poor health and safety habits also hit you in the pocketbook, which is another reason to adopt safe behaviors. Obese people pay $1,400 more per year for medical care than healthy people, a study published in Health Affairs found. The average hospital cost of a fall injury is $30,000, reported a study published in the Journal of Safety Research. The average cost of being hit by identity theft is $1,343, according to the Department of Justice.
The third reason to be more safety-conscious is insurance. High-risk lifestyles and behaviors can raise your insurance rates, while being more safety-conscious can lower them. For instance, insurers allow companies that have wellness programs the option of offering up to 30 percent discounts as incentives.
A fourth reason to be more safety-conscious is to gain peace of mind. Not only will you feel less stress, but you will be helping your physical and mental health, as well as your financial health. As much as eight percent of healthcare costs stem from stress, according to Harvard Business School professor Joel Goh.
Tips for Staying Safe
Health: Staying safety-conscious starts with following safer health habits. The American Heart Association recommends a healthy diet and exercise as the best prevention against cardiovascular disease. To maintain weight, use up at least as many calories as you take in; to lose weight, use up more calories than you consume. Eat a balanced diet from all the food groups, including fruits and vegetables, avoiding trans and saturated fat, and sweets. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity in each week. If you need to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, aim for 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity three to four times a week. Schedule regular preventive screenings to intercept potential problems early.
Money: To keep your finances safe, avoid giving out your Social Security number, health care information, and other personal information when it’s not needed, recommends the U.S. government’s identity theft protection page. Pick up your mail promptly, and ask the post office to hold your mail if you’ll be away for a while. Review monthly credit statements and check your credit report once a year to watch for unauthorized activity. Use firewalls, anti-virus software, and secure connections when going online, and only use HTTPS-protected sites for online financial transactions.
Home: To keep your home safe, Allstate recommends you change your locks when moving into a new home, and make sure all doors have deadbolts. Take steps to make your home look occupied when you’re not home, such as leaving a car in the driveway or leaving a loud radio on. Install motion-activated lights and alarms, and consider timers or home automation to give the impression that someone is home. Set up video surveillance cameras to identify intruders. The best surveillance cameras from providers such as Lorex have high-definition resolution with night vision so that you can capture suspect details such as hair and eye color even in low-light conditions. Install fire and smoke alarms, and check the batteries regularly.
These are just some examples of the risks and countermeasures available to you. Sometimes, it helps to think like an auditor and try to look objectively at your habits, surroundings, and so forth - if you always operate out of habit, you can overlook the risks. What about you - do you have any tips to share on this topic?