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When it Comes to Accidental Deaths, United States is Approaching Deadliest Stretch of the Year

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June 25th 2018

National Safety Council analysis shows that most preventable, accidental deaths occur in July and August, underscoring the need for extra caution during the proverbial carefree summer months

National Safety Council analysis indicates that more preventable, accidental deaths occur during the two months of July and August than during any other two-month period of the year – a trend that includes drowning, pediatric vehicular heatstroke, pedestrian deaths, natural disasters and gun-related fatalities. Since June is National Safety Month, the Council urges people to use the next few weeks to take inventory of their own safety risks.

To help, the Council has added deaths by month – and data around some of the issues influencing these deaths – to its Injury Facts interactive online database of preventable injuries and deaths. While the Council has tracked preventable injury and death data for 98 years, this is the first time NSC has made “Hot Car Deaths” its own category – something the Council does when emerging issues become critically important for the public to understand.

“Unfortunately when we look at accidental deaths, summer is not the carefree period we’d like it to be,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council. “The numbers underscore the need for public awareness. We hope Injury Facts can help people understand the biggest risks to their safety and take the steps needed to ensure no one gets hurt.”

Noteworthy issues to pay attention to for the next few months include:

  • Drownings: Swimming, playing in the water or falling in the water claimed 656 lives in July alone in 2016, a 108 percent increase over the yearly average and their highest level that year. In total, 3,786 people died in 2016 from drowning[i]Injury Facts now breaks down all preventable deaths by month so people understand the biggest risks facing them as we move through the calendar year.
  • Hot car deaths: Eighteen children have died this year after being left in a hot car, and that number is increasing almost daily. On average, 37 children younger than 15 die this way each year. Aside from adding “Hot Car Deaths” as its own category for the first time, Injury Facts is updating in real time the statistics, locations, vehicle temperatures at the time of death, and other information.
  • Pedestrian fatalities: Pedestrian deaths start to increase in late summer and continue a steady increase through the end of the year. Since 2009, pedestrian deaths have risen sharply, totaling 7,330 in 2016.[ii] For the first time, Injury Facts shows where pedestrian fatalities tend to occur, what the outdoor lighting condition was like at the time of the death and what day of the week the incident occurred.
  • Disaster deaths: There were 44 deaths associated with excessive heat in July and August in 2016 – the most common disaster of those months. Injury Facts breaks down the data by month on an interactive table. Categories include floods, excessive heat, fire and winter storms.
  • Gun-related fatalities: Accidental shooting-related deaths have remained steady in recent years, totaling about 1 percent of all firearm fatalities. By contrast, homicides by gun jumped 7 percent from 2015 to 2016, and July and August are peak months. More than 2,600 people were fatally injured by a firearm during that two-month period in 2016. For the first time, an interactive chart on Injury Facts breaks down the data by gender, age and year, and the split between intentional and unintentional deaths.

Injury Facts is the Council’s 98-year-old compilation of preventable death and injury that has transitioned to an online, interactive portal in order to expedite the flow of critical safety information to the general public. Injury Facts is available at injuryfacts.nsc.org.

[i] In this instance, “drowning” relates to deaths involving nontransport activities and does not include drownings from boat-related incidents

[ii] According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics

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