Watch out for non-crash-related accidents!

Lawton_If you have ever felt the pain of getting your fingers caught in a car door - don't be embarrassed, you're not alone.  Almost 150,000 Americans suffer injuries from closing car doors each year according to a recent study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The research found hundreds of thousands of people get injured when their vehicles aren't even on the road.

This is the first time the NHTSA has looked at car-related injuries inflicted when people weren't involved in a crash, and the results even surprised ER staff here in Lawton.  The study projects that almost 750,000 non-crash-related injuries in the United States this year.  Twenty-percent of the injuries will be fingers and limbs finding themselves smashed in the door frame - but, that's not the only place.  "Children smash their hands and the parents don't even know it, and an automatic window can be rolled up on a child's hand," said Comanche County Memorial Hospital ER Manager Starlin Wood.  Fingers getting smashed in automatic windows happens 2,000 times per year.

Injuries that don't involve crashes are not helped by winter weather.  "People open the door when it's frozen and hit themselves in the head with their own car door," said Wood.  "People slip underneath the car sometimes if it's icy, trying to get the door open."  More than 70,000 people per year become either trapped under or struck by a vehicle - but that isn't an unsual sight for paramedics.  "Years ago, my husband and I worked an ambulance together, and a taxi-cab had run over a guy," said Southwestern Medical Center ER Director Vicky Winham.  "It was a non-paying patron, and subsequently we had to get him out of the car.  We had to lift up the taxi to extricate him from underneath there."

There are plenty of injuries that happen when a car breaks down, too.  Tens-of-thousands of people overexert their backs pushing stranded cars, another 10,000 suffer from radiator burns, and an addition 3,000 Americans get hurt working on their tires each year.  "Explosions - the tire explodes so they have a twofold injury," said Winham.  "One, they're thrown back, so injuries from direct impact, and then tertiary to the explosion itself can cause damage to hollow organs - ruptured ear drums.  If they're trying to change a tire, the jack slips and falls, that's a crushing injury on the limbs, also."

Emergency room workers say they hope people will become more aware of non-crash-related injuries that can occur, and put safety first.