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Practical Steps to Take To Be Safe

Smiling happy older couple traveling in their car

When driving, learn how to keep distractions to a minimum and lower your risk of an accident.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When driving, learn how to keep distractions to a minimum and lower your risk of an accident. Did you know there are practical steps you can take to be safe?  To maintain your health, it’s important to be safe and protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, falls, and motor vehicle crashes.

How do I prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

-STIs can be passed to another person during sex.  Protect yourself by abstaining from sex.  If you’re sexually active, use a latex condom every time you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) if your partner is or might be infected.
-You can decrease your number of sexual partners to reduce your risk.
-If you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner (you and your partner have sex only with each other), you can reduce your risk of developing STIs.

What are the symptoms of STIs?

-Many STIs don’t have symptoms.  This means you can have an STI without knowing it.  If you think you may have an STI or have been exposed, talk to your health care provider.
-STIs can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby before or during the baby’s birth.  If you are pregnant, get tested and if the test is positive, seek treatment to avoid passing the infection to the baby.

How are STIs treated?

-If treated early, some STIs can be cured with antibiotics.  Untreated STIs can cause serious health problems, like infertility.  If you’re treated for an STI, your sex partner(s) should also be treated to prevent re-infecting you.

How dangerous are falls in the home?

-About half of all falls happen at home.  Falls are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.  If you or a loved one has fallen recently or has balance problems, make sure your home is safe.  You can request a home safety assessment from your VA health care team.

What can I do to prevent falls in my home?

-Prevent tripping and falling by removing small throw rugs.  If you do use them, use double-sided tape or anti-slip mats underneath the rug.
-Improve your home’s lighting.  As you get older, you need brighter lights to help you see well.  Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
-Wear shoes inside and outside the house.  Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
-Remove things from stairs and places where you walk—you’ll be less likely to trip.
-Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
-Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
-Install grab bars next to your toilet and in your tub or shower.  Also install handrails and lights in all staircases.
-Physical activity, especially strengthening exercises, may reduce your risk of falling by increasing strength and balance.

How do I prevent motor vehicle crashes and injuries? 

-Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or ride with somebody who is.
-Impaired driving is dangerous and causes more than half of all motor vehicle crashes.
-Reduce your—and your loved ones--chances of dying from a motor vehicle-related injury by correctly using seat belts and car seats.  Wear seat belts in cars and helmets on motorcycles and bicycles.
-Don’t text message or talk on a cell phone while driving.  Pull far over to the side of the road away from traffic.

• VHA National Center for Health Promotion & Disease

• American Social Health Association, How to use a condom*:

• Clinical Public Health Program: HIV/AIDS:

• Healthfinder — Quick Guide to Healthy Living*:
• Healthfinder — Reduce Your Risk of Falling*: Quick Guide to Healthy Living: 

• Driving Resources — Veteran’s Safe Driving Initiative:

• Distracted Driving: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers*:

If you have questions about how to make healthy living changes, please talk with your health care team.

* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for content on the site.



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