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If you live in a small, quiet, and low-crime community, you may take your safety for granted. Millions of homes and neighborhoods across the U.S. are deemed dangerous, putting the health, safety, and overall well-being of residents at risk for personal injuries and even death. You may live a healthy lifestyle and reside in a safe home, but if your community is unsafe and unhealthy it can directly impact you.
The first week of April is National Public Health Awareness Week in which the American Public Health Association (APHA) raises awareness, educates and encourages communities to strive to live more safely and healthy. The APHA strives in making the United States the healthiest nation by the year 2030. While the goal is a challenge, it is attainable if everyone made small changes in their daily lives.
What Makes a Community Safe?
Focusing on community safety is much more than reducing the rate of crime. A safer community should have low rates of unintentional injuries, the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. An unintentional injury, such as a fall or injury in a fire, can happen anywhere in a community and with proper prevention, the rate of incidence can be significantly decreased.
Hazardous Homes: While the home should be one of the safest places in a person’s life, a place of residence is often filled with hazards that lead to injury in death.
For instance, many Americans rent homes and entrust that the property they live in is safe. Unfortunately, in many homes the property is not maintained or up-to-date with safety regulations. According to Mike Sawaya, Denver personal injury attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm, property owners are responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, or at least giving adequate warning of any danger. When a home is not properly maintained, the rates of unintentional injuries can increase.
The Solution: Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is safe (regardless of the age of the property or the income level of the renters). While some landlords fail to regard safety, tenants (and potential tenants) should choose the property carefully and avoid renting any places that may have health hazards such as radon, lead paint, tripping/falling hazards, or any indication of fire hazards.
Unsafe Neighborhoods: Gun violence is a problem of epidemic proportions in neighborhoods across the United States and it takes about as many lives each year as vehicle crashes. According to the Gun Violence Archives, there were 53,037 incidents involving a gun, resulting in 13,384 deaths and 26,973 injuries. Although a majority of gun use is intentional (with 2,335 incidents due to home invasion and 1,286 due to defensive use), 1,954 gun incidences were a result of an accidental shooting.
The Solution: If you want to make your community or neighborhood safer from gun violence, there are some things you can do. First, don’t own a gun, but if you do, make sure you know how to use it safely, store it responsibly, and keep it away from others (especially children). Write to Congress and ask them to vote for safety measures to prevent gun violence. Contact the National Crime Prevention Council and find out how you can get involved in or start a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood.
If you become an active member in your community or neighborhood, you can help to reduce rate of preventable accidents and your participation can help make your community a safer and healthier place to live.
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