6 Ways You Won’t Believe You Can Injure Yourself

When I’m in the shower, I’m afraid to wash my hair 
‘Cause I might open my eyes and find someone standing there 
People say I’m crazy, just a little touched 
But maybe showers remind me of Psycho too much… 

Rockwell’s 1984 debut single, Somebody’s Watching Me, describes the thought process of a man who believes that everyone from the mailman to the people in the television set are out to get him.  Although he bolts the door every night, he cannot shake the feeling that at any moment, he may feel a tap on the shoulder or pick up the phone to the sound of a heavy breather.  (As a matter of fact, Rockwell wrote an entire song called Obscene Phone Caller about the latter anxiety; but that’s neither here nor there.)

Happily, unlike the protagonist of Rockwell’s novelty song, most of us at least have the consolation of knowing with reasonable certainty what we have to be afraid of.  Cars flatten, rabid dogs infect, and gravity crushes tailbones.  For the most part, we know that the dangers lurking in our homes are not violent madmen or the IRS, but electrical outlets and stoves.  Whatever else they are, they are predictable.

However, this is only a general rule.  Some risks which are not as rare as you might suppose are less than intuitive.  On the bright side, these are still relatively few and number—at the very least, nothing to behave like Rockwell over:

1. Coughing Too Hard

As absolutely infuriating as coughing is, particularly in combination with other symptoms of a given ailment, its only inherent risk is a sore throat or at most, a bloody handkerchief, right?  Alas, this is not always the case:  according to the New England Journal of Medicine, a 40-year-old woman with asthma and a lower respiratory tract infection managed to jeopardize not phlegm or blood, but a lung by coughing violently for 2 weeks.  While she did not cough it up (as the exasperated saying goes), she did cough it through her ribs.

Apparently, that isn’t the only (or even) the worst thing that can happen when you cough too hard for too long:  collapsed lungs, ruptured spleens, and even popped eyes have resulted from violent coughing.

2. Hair-Thread Tourniquet Syndrome

Most people have, at some point, responded to their recent acquisition of some sort of string by wrapping it around their finger and quickly unwinding it again once their fingertip turns purple.  It seems to be as natural a human compulsion as putting olives on your fingers and reciting “Little Jack Horner.”  However, this impulse can become dangerous when it is the appendage of a young child or mentally/physically challenged individual—someone who is unable to perform the “unwind quickly” part of the task.  When the thread or hair is not unwound, it can develop into Hair-Thread Tourniquet Syndrome.  While babies are the primary victims, the condition is not unheard of in adolescents.  Occasionally, the offending thread must be professionally removed.

3. Shopping Cart Injuries

A shopping cart would never make it in the Fast and the Furious film franchise; but shopping carts hold their own in the real world better than one might suspect.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 120,000 children under the age of five were injured in shopping cart accidents between 2003 and 2008.  Eighty-four percent of injuries were to the head and face; 9% more were to the arms and hands.  In 34% of cases, an internal organ was injured.  The majority of these injuries (82%) were falling accidents (encompassing both falls from carts and presence in tipping carts).  While there is currently not enough data to determine what, precisely precipitates the bulk of these accidents, they can generally be avoided by adherence to the instructions found on the seat of the cart, itself.

4. Laundry Detergent Pod Ingestion

To a small child, the whole world is a chew toy.  The manufacture of children’s toys, snacks, furniture, etc. is regulated on account of this fact.  However, no such restrictions apply to laundry detergent pods.  Tide pods alone prompted close to 200 calls to poison control within the first 3 months of their debut on the market.  Altogether, laundry detergent caused nearly 1,000 poisonings between May and June 2012.  The attractiveness of these products is proving too great a temptation for the children of their consumers; and the concentrated power of the small objects are efficiently afflicting children (mostly younger than 5) with nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

5. Bounce Houses

A bounce house may be mostly air and fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be hazardous:  between 1995 and 2010, bounce house-related injuries rose 1,500%; and “from 2008 to 2010, the rate of injuries more than doubled.”  Most recent statistics show the annual count to be more than 11,000 bounce house injuries per year.  While these injuries are most commonly strains to fractures in the leg/ankle regions, nearly 20% of children sustained injuries to the head and/or neck.  It is believed that most of these injuries could be avoided by limiting the number of children in a bounce house at a time, setting the minimum age at 6 years, and banning horseplay.

6. Escalator Falls/Entrapment

For some years, there here have been several stories circulating about dramatic injuries on escalators.  Many dismissed them as urban legends.  However, regardless of the veracity of particular stories, escalator injuries are far from legendary:  The most recent report from the CPSC estimates that there are 11,000 escalator injuries yearly.  While the entrapment of the “urban legends” is not fabricated, most of these injuries are caused by falls.

Now that bones are quaking, there is some good news: you aren’t obligated to be aware of all the things that can hurt you.  That’s the job of building proprietors, business owners, etc.  If you or someone you know are hurt by something malfunctioning or out of place, a personal injury attorney may be your best hope of fighting whatever system was responsible for the harm sustained, assuming a fight is involved.  Some parties are willing to offer sizable settlements without the necessity of bringing in an attorney in the first place.

At the same time, only an experienced attorney can help you calculate what your case is really worth and keep in mind projected costs.  Even if you don’t have any idea of retaining one, a consultation is recommended.  To consult for free with Utah’s top personal injury attorneys at Christensen & Hymas in Draper, call their office at (801) 506-0800.
Image courtesy of pixabay user rkit

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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