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Study hails Utah home safety

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Utah homes are ranked among the safest in the nation in a new report commissioned by the Home Safety Council.

In the second annual report, Utah is credited with having the second-lowest rate of unintentional home injury-related deaths in the United States.

The council found home injuries caused an annual average of 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits each year. It is the first study to examine home-injury trends both on a national and state level, according to Carri Casteel, an epidemiologist and researcher with the State of Health Safety Report and the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center.

"The purpose of the report is to compile national statistics so that the Home Safety Council can have scientific evidence of where prevention methods should be focused," Casteel said.

The study ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the five leading causes of death due to injuries in the home. The leading causes of death include falls, poisonings, fires/burns, choking/suffocation and drowning, according to Casteel.

"These five make up 90 percent of all unintentional injuries," she said. "In Utah, less than four per 100,000 residents die on average each year" as a result of home injuries.

In addition, the study found the nearly 20,000 deaths equal a total cost of about $387 billion per year in medical costs.

Massachusetts, Utah and Maryland reported the lowest rates of home-injury fatalities. New Mexico, Mississippi and Arizona rank highest in the nation.

"The states don't vary by much, but you can speculate that the Southeast has a higher rate of fires/burns because of modular housing and Florida might have more drownings because they are more inclined to have swimming pools," Casteel said.

Socio-demographics, alcohol use and safety practices in some areas might affect the rate of home-injury deaths, although it is difficult to say with limited sources such as death certificates, Casteel added.

"We're not able to determine the specifics because of the data source, but the next step in research could be why the deaths are occurring," she said. "It could be another study using a household survey or local data, although it has not been discussed yet."

The Home Safety Council is a nonprofit organization that works to educate families on creating a safer living environment. More information on resources for home safety can be found at www.homesafetycouncil.org.

E-MAIL: sbaghbani@desnews.com