Injury prone Yukoners urged to take care

After a summer of rainy hikes and camping trips, Yukoners are returning to work and winter routines. As you resume these things, think about doing…

After a summer of rainy hikes and camping trips, Yukoners are returning to work and winter routines.

As you resume these things, think about doing them safely, said Dr. Brendan Hanley, medical health officer who wants Tuesday to be a day without injury.

“This is a unique and exciting day that we’ve thought about for quite a while,” Hanley told a news conference this week.

“We simply want to get Yukoners to think about the risks that they take and the injuries that can happen.”

“It’s a way to make us think twice about what we do, how we go about things and how we can integrate that sort of thinking into our everyday lives,” he said.

“As the first day of our fall routines, it’s very appropriate for thinking about how we get into that routine and our daily activities.”

Yukoners suffer from injuries at rates much higher than the rest of Canada, said Hanley.

Traumatic injuries kill Yukon men at three times the national average and females at 2.5 times the national average.

Preventable injuries are responsible for more youth deaths than all other causes combined.

While the majority of injuries are not fatal, they still take their toll on bodies, lifestyles, families, businesses and the economy.

The Yukon does not have any data on how much money these injuries are costing the territory.

But injuries cost Canada $14.5 billion each year and are the third-highest economic burden on the nation’s health-care system.

“That would likely be proportionally higher here,” said Hanley.

“And then you have to factor in transportation costs because many serious injuries have to be treated out of territory.”

The Day Without Injury is not about these troubling statistics.

“I thought that trying to get individuals to think more about the risks they take everyday is one way to bring this home, instead of just numbers,” said Hanley.

“Get every individual to think, what can I do to get through the day without a bump, scratch or a bruise?”

Hanley, for example, will take extra care planning his day this upcoming Tuesday, he said.

He’ll wear a helmet and all the proper gear if the weather permits him to bike to work.

And, if he has to drive, he’ll definitely be wearing a seatbelt, won’t rush and won’t be answering his cellphone.

And while medical health officer isn’t exactly the most hazardous profession in the territory, Hanley will ensure that his office is kept clean to prevent trips and falls.

Hanley doesn’t know precisely why there are so many injuries in the territory, but suggested several possibilities.

“Yukoners are very active people that are out and about more and are therefore more prone to injury,” he said.

“The territory also has a much higher rate of substance abuse compared to the national average.”

And the fact that the Yukon leads the country in motor-vehicle crashes may be due to the fact that the territory has long roads with long stretches where people can fall asleep and lose focus.

During the Day Without Injury, Yukoners are encouraged to go about their lives as normal.

“We should pride ourselves on the fact that we are an active people. There is nothing we are saying you should not do,” said Hanley.

“Given the dangers of sedentary lifestyles and obesity, that wouldn’t do much good either.”

Inspectors, police and bylaw officers will not be encouraged to increase their scrutiny on Tuesday.

“It’s not about the injury police,” said Hanley. “That would remove the emphasis from the individual.

“There’s no parade, there’s no concert, it’s really just putting it out there.”

While Hanley gave the news conference on Tuesday, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board injury count was pegged at 1,268.

Wednesday morning, the count had crawled up to 1,270.

“We would like to see that board stand still for one day,” said Hanley.

“That would be ideal.”