Fall Safety Tips
It’s the time of year when the weather is starting to cool off, the leaves are falling, and all of the commercials on TV seem to be telling us to get outside and work in the yard.
Unfortunately, the tasks to ensure a more beautiful lawn in the spring can wreak havoc on our bodies. Raking, pruning, and cleaning gutters can cause back pain, muscle strain, painful injuries and even accidents that require a trip to the emergency room. According to the CDC, approximately 42 million people seek emergency treatment for yard work related injuries each year.
Hire a professional to do a job that requires equipment you are not confident using. If you do decide to do the job yourself, know how to operate the equipment safely and correctly.
Here are some tips to make your time more productive and keep you safe:
Wear Safety Equipment
Weed-eating, trimming bushes and trees, and fertilizing the lawn all seem relatively harmless, but without proper protection, flying debris can wind up in your eyes. Wearing safety glasses, earmuffs, and gloves can provide protection for your skin and eyes and ears. If you are spraying chemicals or spreading lime and fertilizer, be sure to wear a face mask to avoid inhaling deadly toxins. Also keep these away from kids and pets.
Keep an eye on your surroundings and to make sure no one else can potentially be inadvertently hit by a stray rock or branch.
Use Proper Tools
Yard tools are now being made with ergonomics in mind, but they are only good if they fit you. Take time to try out tools in the store before you buy them. For example, hoes and rakes should have handles long enough for you be be able to use them without bending over. They should also be as lightweight as possible and fit in your hand comfortable. Look for hand tools with wide handles, and a padded grip. Wearing gloves can also help keep your hands from blistering.
Using sharpened hand tools is also key to reducing the amount of effort needed to dig and trim bushes. When tools begin to dull, use a metal file or whetstone to sharpen the edges. If you are uncomfortable or don’t have the tools to sharpen metal, taking your hand tools and lawnmower blades to a professional lawn repair shop is a safe alternative.
Clean and dry your tools at the end of the work day and store them in a shed or garage. This will keep the sun and rain off of them. If handles do become worn, sand and refinish them to avoid splintering.
Mind Your Posture
Avoid reaching over something to pick up another object. The closer the item is to your body, the easier it is to lift the item. Be sure to bend at your knees and use your legs, rather than bending at the waist and pulling a muscle in your back.
It’s also easy to use your dominant hand and arm when performing tasks. It’s important to switch things up and alternate between your left and right arms when doing yard work. This will help prevent overworking certain muscle groups.
Raking leaves is a good example of a task that can easily alternate your muscle movement. Also, don’t overfill bags of leaves. You should be able to handle bags comfortably and without straining to lift them.
Carefully Climb Ladders
If you must clean your gutters yourself, make sure your ladder is in good repair with no loose hinges, rungs, or screws. Place it on a firm, level surface and check to be sure it’s fully open and locked. If using an extension ladder, be sure it’s leaning at a safe angle against the house and that it isn’t leaning to one side. When climbing, wear shoes with nonslip soles and shoes that are enclosed — no sandals or flip flops. Never climb a ladder without someone holding it in place. And, always face toward it when climbing and descending. Never sit or stand above the level indicated by the manufacturer.
Take breaks throughout the day, stretch, and drink plenty of water. Getting the kids involved will also give provide some relief and give them some exercise, too.
At the end of the day, taking an ibuprofen, or an anti-inflammatory will help your muscles. Apply heat to your lower back if it’s feeling tight.
Stop by our pharmacy for any last minute first aid items before you do any yard work. That way, you’re prepared when and if you need relief.