Sunday, March 4, 2012

How Not to Die

They call Jan Garavalia, M. D., by the nickname "Dr. G" because her last name is hard to pronounce. She was a guest speaker at Sleuthfest, where I happened to pick up her book. The intriguing title is HOW NOT TO DIE. You can purchase a signed copy by calling Murder on the Beach at 561-279-7790. Tell them I sent you!

Okay, you can't REALLY look inside. Not here at least! Hmmm. But Dr. G looks inside, doesn't she?

Since we mystery authors specialize in killing off people, this seemed a bit out of place! But I zipped through most of the book last night, and I thought I'd share a few key points with all of you.

1. Your home can be deadly. "Believe it or not, more than fifteen thousand people suffer fatal accidents at home each year in America, and the greatest proportion of those die from falls," writes Dr. G. That reminds me of an author friend whose husband fell off a ladder while at home alone performing some household chore. She called him. He didn't answer. By the time she arrived at their house, he had died. The moral of the story? You might want to wait to change that lightbulb until you have a friend or spouse with you.

2. Clutter (and your pets) can kill and maim. A portion of those falls happen when people trip over strays (fur-covered variety) and stray belongings. One "home alone" victim fell on an uneven rug. She landed onto the pointed handle of a hairbrush she was holding. Dr. G's autopsy showed that the handle went right through her eye and into her brain. A friend of mine tripped over a pet, landed on the cutlery basket in her open dishwasher, and cut herself badly on a protruding knife blade. Ugh.

3. Driving with the window rolled half-down can be hazardous. Dr. G writes that "windows rolled halfway down can cause the most traumatic injuries if you get partially thrown from your car." She also notes that one of her victims was distracted when a bee flew into his truck.

4. Your doctor's tie is a health hazard. Think about it. The tie dangles. It touches surfaces, sick people, and dirty tables. No one washes a tie after its worn. Ask your doctor to tuck his tie inside his jacket before examining you.

Of course, there's more. It's a fascinating book. One that will get you thinking about the small decisions you make daily. They might not seem like they're "life and death," but they are.

What smart safety habits do you follow? For example, I always buckle my seatbelt. Always. I always direct the shower water down through the tap before I turn it off. (Otherwise, you could get scalded.) And I always put my forks and knives sharp ends DOWN in the dishwasher.

What about you?


Mollie Cox Bryan said...

I think of the kitchen immediately when I think of safety. One thing I always drill into my daughters is not to leave a pot on the hot stove with the handle facing outward—someone could walk by and catch themselves on it. And, I am a freak about hand washing when you're handling food.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Excellent point, Mollie. I also immediately remove my tea kettle from the burner once it whistles--and then I place it on a cool burner when I'm done pouring. That way there's no chance of it reheating. I also re-close the whistle so it would alert me if I somehow put it back on a hot burner.

NL Gassert said...

With a toddler underfoot my house is a minefield of tripping hazards and small, painful things littering the floors and stairs. Don’t walk barefoot into my children’s rooms at night. On the upside: if a window is shut, it is locked; the cutlery goes pointy side down in the dishwasher; no one drives without a seat belt; medications always remain in their original containers (up and out of the way); the dryer isn’t on when we’re out, there’s nothing in the van glove box with my home address on it, and I never, ever leave the entire key ring with the mechanic (only the car key itself).I can't think of anything else, but I hear my toddler dumping more toys on the living room floor right now ... :-)


Julie said...

Seat belts. Every single time, no exceptions, no excuses. I am alive today because on September 30, 1991, I was wearing mine. I won't bore you with details, but that accident simply crystallized my determination.

Anyone in a car I'm driving wears a belt. I've been known to pull over to the side of the road and turn the car off if a niece or nephew unfastened theirs.

To everyone out there: Wear your seatbelt. Every time the car is moving, even in parking lots. Just wear it.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Nadja, great suggestions, especially the one about nothing in the glove box with your home address. Smart. Very smart.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Julie, I had a friend years ago whose daughter was killed when her mother-in-law landed on the child. See, the m-i-l was driving without her seatbelt, and someone rammed the car. The m-i-l went airborne and crushed the child. So, yeah, EVERYONE in the car should wear a seatbelt. EVERYONE.