4 minor measures that could save your life

Breathe easy: Simply switching inhalers could prevent more than half of the 2.1 million asthma-related ER trips per year, according to a recently released U.K. study.

What gives? The bulk of asthma-related ER visits result from people losing track of how much medication they have left—or taking breaths from inhalers that are actually empty, researchers say.

But a rescue inhaler—featuring a dose counter that shows how much medicine is left—can cut hospital admissions. The gadgets are widely available, but if your insurance doesn’t cover them, companies like PuffMinder offer an attachment that will help you keep track.

Give your airways a break by avoiding these 5 Health Threats to Your Lungs.

Here are three other simple tips or innovations that could save your life:

The right kind of smoke detector

Unlike ionization detectors—the most-common type in the U.S., and great at sensing flames—photoelectric detectors are quicker to recognize the smoldering, toxic smoke released by slow burns from frayed electrical cords or forgotten cigarettes. That’s according to experiments from Texas A&M professor B. Don Russell, who recommends ponying up a few extra bucks to buy a dual detector equipped with both technologies. First Alert offers a popular option.

Can’t remember the last time you checked to see if your smoke alarm was working? Know these 4 Dangerous Home Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making.

Car technology

Like airbags and electronic stability control, forward collision assistance—auto-braking—is one of those innovations that works so well it’ll probably be in every car a decade from now. Your risk of ending up in an accident falls 20 percent if your ride has this technology, according to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you can afford it, most luxury car brands currently offer these systems.

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Swallowing some Joe could counteract some of the airway-closing effects of a severe reaction to allergens like nuts, shows research from Korea. By blocking the release of throat-tightening histamine, coffee’s compounds cut the rate of death among allergy-ridden rodents by half, the research shows. It’s not yet proven to be effective in humans, so never count on it over emergency help—but if you ever find yourself waiting for paramedics or without an epinephrine shot, it's worth a try.

Don’t fall into the medicine trap! Check out these 5 Allergy Medicines to Avoid.