Avoid these freaky accidents

Health. Here are some causes of accidents, some common, some not, that may surprise you.

27 Dec 2019 | 12:32

Accidents happen, right? Most are from obvious causes, such as using power tools or sharp knives, climbing a ladder, walking across a wet floor, choking on a piece of food, or running a red light. But mishaps also occur in the most unexpected places and under seemingly innocuous circumstances. Here are eight causes of accidents — some more common than others — that may surprise you. Among the lessons learned: Be mindful when zipping. If you give a hickey, do so gently. And watch out for falling coconuts.

According to a study in the British Journal of Urology International, about 2,000 people (including children) go to the emergency room every year in the U.S. because of zipper injuries to the genitals, most always the penis. The risk of zipper-related penile injuries — or ZIRPI (yup, there is an acronym for it) — is higher in males who are uncircumcised and boys under 18, according to preliminary research. Whether going commando increases the risk remains controversial.

Another big youch down under. Almost 70 percent of the 13,175 toilet-related injuries seen in emergency rooms over a nine-year period in the U.S. were due to a toilet seat falling on top of a penis, pinning it between the seat and the bowl, according to a 2013 study from UC San Francisco. About 97 percent of the injuries — coined “penile slam syndrome” — occurred in children ages seven or younger. Presumably bigger and heavier toilet seats, including those made of ceramic or wood, would be more injurious.

Bay leaves are commonly used to flavor soups and stews, but this aromatic herb can have a more treacherous side: Swallowing one can perforate or cause blockage in the intestines, as has been described in several case reports over the years, including one in the Canadian Journal of Surgery. Bay leaves, which are rigid and have sharp edges, remain intact as they travel through the gut. Ingesting one is like swallowing a razor blade. Always remove them before serving the dish.

Driving with flip-flops on can have deadly consequences. In a small German study that used a driving simulator, almost half of the drivers who wore such sandals missed making contact with the brake pedal at least once, and a third slipped from the pedal at least once, delaying braking. Not surprisingly, flip-flops have been blamed for many car accidents, including one involving a driver who slammed into a bicyclist after becoming distracted when his sandals got caught in the pedal. Also beware platform shoes, high heels, and certain other footwear behind the wheel, the Canadian Safety Council warns.

Coconut palm trees bring to mind idyllic vacations in tropical environs, but here’s why you may not want to sit under one. As reported in the Journal of Trauma, nearly 3 percent of trauma admissions at a hospital in Papua New Guinea over a four-year period were due to injuries from falling coconuts. Two people died instantly and two others required surgery. Coconuts weigh up to 9 pounds, and the impact force when one falls could be greater than 2,200 pounds, the researchers calculated.

Source: University of California at Berkeley: berkeleywellness.com