Think First

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An estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a brain injury and 12,000 – 20,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury every year. That is one person every 21 seconds. This means that in the short time it has taken you to read these facts, approximately 13 people have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The common causes of brain and spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle crashes, violence, falls, sports and recreation. 51 percent of incidents resulting in brain injury occur on the weekend. And most brain injuries take place at night.

The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation and St.Vincent Health have teamed together to help educate kids, youth and teens on brain and spinal cord injury prevention.

Injury Prevention and Safety Tips for KIDS and YOUTH

TF - Water Safety

Water Safety

  • Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is learn to swim.
  • Never swim alone and always have a parent or adult with you.
  • Keep a phone nearby so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Vehicle Safety

  • Don’t play or talk loudly while in the car and do not disturb the driver.
  • Don’t run into the street or between parked vehicles.
  • Don’t enter the DANGER ZONE around a bus. The danger zone is 10 feet around the bus. The bus driver cannot see children in this area.
TF - Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety

  • Ride single file on the right side of the road, with traffic.
  • ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, even on short rides.
  • Look ahead to make sure the ground or pavement is smooth and dry with no obstacles.

Sports and Playground Safety

  • When on the playground, stay clear of swings, seesaws and monkey bars.
  • Wait your turn for equipment on rides.
  • Look around before swinging a bar or tennis racquet and don’t ever throw a bat or racquet.

Weapons Safety

  • Stop.
  • Don’t touch the gun, knife or other weapons.
  • Leave the area.
  • Call an adult.

Injury Prevention and Safety Tips for TEENS

TF - Water Safety 2

Water Information and Safety

  • 90 percent of diving injuries take place in six feet of water or less.
  • Natural bodies of water are the site of 75 percent of diving accidents.
  • Never dive in water less than 9 feet deep.
  • Enter water feet first the first time to test if an area is safe to dive.
  • Watch for undercurrents, changing waves and undertows in a lake or ocean.
Vehicle Safety

Vehicle Information and Safety

  • 60 percent of crashes occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.
  • 75 percent of motor vehicle crashes occur within 25 miles of home.
  • Damaged seat belts are not suitable protection. Look for signs of damage such as fading, fraying, tears or loss of flexibility.
  • Wear your safety belt during every ride.
    • Lap belt – should fit snugly and be worn low across the hips and pelvis.
    • Shoulder belt – should fit snugly and cross the chest and collarbone.
    • Seat should be in an upright position.

Bicycle Information and Safety

  • Bicycle deaths are more likely to occur in the summer between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • A bicycle crash is likely to occur in a driveway or on a sidewalk.
  • Ride single file and with the flow of traffic, never against it.
  • Follow all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
  • Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic by looking left-right-left.
Sports and Recreation Safety

Sports and Recreation Safety

  • Children younger than 15 account for 85 percent of scooter injuries.
  • Males incurred approximately 75 percent of scooter injuries in the year 2000.
  • Only one person should be on a skateboard or scooter at a time.
  • For skating, practice braking and stopping before you begin.
  • Begin skating with a slow five-minute warm-up.
  • Skate on the right side, but pass on the left – yelling, “Passing on the left!”

Violence Prevention and Gun Safety

  • 50 percent of unintentional shootings occur in the home and 40 percent occur in a friend’s or family member’s household.
  • Gun owners can decrease the associated risks by properly locking the unloaded gun and ammunition in separate locations.

Fast Facts

The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation offers a number of 'Fast Facts' sheets, with safety tips and other information for children and adults.

For more information on injury prevention, visit the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation at The website provides information on how to get involved in your local ThinkFirst chapter and offers resources to download for schools and communities.

For more information on the St.Vincent ThinkFirst chapter, or to schedule a presentation, please contact Karen Terrell at 317.338.2336 or 317.460.9459. You can also send an e-mail to