The Old Coot is afraid of his chair

The U.S Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) collects statistics on injuries and deaths caused by consumer products; a dry, humorless collection of data, at first blush. But when you really examine the numbers, they are quite thought provoking. Astounding, is more like it. 

I’m looking at the data for senior citizens (65 and older) because that’s the team I’m on, like it or not. We are a stumbling bunch and some of our stumbles take us to the emergency room. We’re beyond the “Go walk it off” stage. Or, as my mother dealt with my injury complaints when I was a kid (as did most mothers back then), “Here’s a Popsicle; go out and sit in the back yard and you’ll be fine.” If I didn’t have a bone sticking through my skin I wasn’t really hurt. (I only had one trip to the ER as a kid, and that was because a pitchfork got stuck in my foot.)

CPSC numbers, from the most recent report I could find, show that seniors had over two million ER visits that year caused by consumer products. The rate for us old folks is five injuries per 100 compared to three per 100 for the 24 to 64-year-old group. Okay, we’re more accident prone, and at a rate nearly twice that of younger people. No one knows this better than we do, but what surprises me, are some of the consumer products that send us to the ER. Blankets, for example. Blankets caused 4,700 ER visits. I can only guess how a blanket caused a trip to the hospital. Maybe, if you get tangled up and throw your shoulder out of joint as you struggle to get free? Or, if you get a leg cramp and smash your toe into the footboard trying to kick it out? Anyhow, it does happen, and nearly 5,000 times a year.

The products that cause most of the injuries are more understandable: 785,600 ER visits due to stairs, ramps, landings and floors, 128,200 due to bathroom structures and fixtures, and 44,300 from old coots like me, climbing on ladders or stools. There is no data to cover one of my ladder mishaps. I climbed onto the roof and accidentally kicked the ladder over, stranding myself until a Good Samaritan (Damen Tinkham) came by and set the ladder back up. 

We are a clumsy bunch, us old coots (and cootesses); we’re so clumsy that 6,200 of us had to go to an ER after using sound recording equipment! 11, 000 visits as the result of a golfing mishap. We keep the ERs in business. I think we should get a senior discount.  

I’ve got to stop my examination of this consumer data. If I get any further into it, I won’t dare to get out of my chair. Which, I notice, isn’t as safe a place as I might have thought since chairs, sofas and sofa beds caused 46,800 (ER) injuries. Even if I get out of my chair without an accident, I still have to navigate across the room to type this handwritten mess of scribbles into my computer. This is a dangerous journey across a throw rug. They are dangerous because rugs and carpets cause 64,200 injuries a year, according to the CPSC. I’ll have to risk it, but it’s a jungle out there. 

Comments? Complaints? Mlessler7@gmail.com

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