10 Dec How to Save Yourself from Autumn Yard Work Injuries
Autumn is amazing! While we watch the leaves turn so many beautiful colors, we gather with friends and family in bulky sweaters over warm meals and hot drinks. It’s a time to reflect on that has happened in the year while we prepare for the winter ahead. There’s also a lot of work to be done especially outside, and for many people autumn is a time for vigorous yard work raking leaves and cleaning gutters. To help prevent injuries this fall, we’ve come up with a few things for you to keep in mind as your complete your outdoor chores.
If you go outside and it’s chilly, wear a jacket. Standing outside in 40 degree weather in nothing but a T-shirt doesn’t make you a tough guy; it makes you susceptible to the flu. Wear lightweight, natural fibers that provide warmth but don’t trap sweat, and wear long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin.
Fallen leaves are pretty and fun to play in, but wet leaves make the ground slippery. Wear sturdy shoes or boots with skid resistant soles to keep from falling
Before raking leaves, warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise. Remember to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids especially if you’re not use to a lot of physical activity. You don’t want a sore back the next day!
The image of a leaf dancing in the air as it falls doesn’t lend to the idea that leaves can be heavy, but a Hefty bag full of wet leaves can be very very heavy. To reduce the strain on your back, don’t overfill the bags and never throw them over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion places too much unnecessary stress on the spine.
Beware tree stumps, rocks, limbs, and uneven surfaces hidden by the leaves. You don’t want to accidentally step in a hole and sprain your ankle.
Use a rake that’s comfortable for your height and strength. To prevent blisters try one with a padded handle or wear gloves.
Vary your movements and alternate your leg and arm positions. When we work we tend to favor our dominant hand, but this can cause us to overuse those muscles. To prevent feeling sore, try not to stay in one position for too long. When picking up leaves, bend at the knees and not at the waist.
Beware of spiders and other critters that might be hiding under the leaves and always wear your gloves to protect your skin from bug bites and thorns.
If you’re using a leafblower, never point the blower nozzle in the direction of people or pets, and do not anyone into your working area.
Also, make sure you know how to use the leafblower before you begin using it. Read the operator’s manual and product decals, and be sure you understand the equipment’s features and controls.
Don’t let your children play in leaf piles that are left next to the curb. It’s harder for motorist to see in the fall because of the shorter days, and the pile of leaves can obstruct the view of the driver and put your child at risk.
If you’re thinking of burning your leaves, check your city’s regulations to make sure it’s not illegal in your area. If you do decide to burn them, keep them away from the house, use the proper containers, and keep a water source nearby. Also remember to wear a mask or bandana over your mouth and nose to prevent breathing in the smoke, and never burn leaves in windy weather conditions to prevent the fire from spreading or getting out of control.
If you plan to drag out the lawn mower one last time, be sure the engine is off and cool before you begin any maintenance work or refuel it.
Never use your hands or feet to clear debris from under the mower. Use a stick or broom handle instead. Never ever touch the blades of a lawnmower. Even when the engine is off, the blades are still sharp moving objects that can cause injury.
Never leave a running lawn mower unattended and always wear protective goggles, gloves, boots, and long pants. Never wear shorts, sandals, or go barefoot when mowing the lawn.
Do not consume alcoholic beverage before or while your are operating a lawn mower.
When cleaning the leaves out of the gutters, before you climb the ladder inspect it for loose screws, hinges, or rugs; clean off any mud, oil or dirt that might have accumulated on it, and be sure all the ladder locks and safety braces work properly.
Make sure all four legs of the ladder rest firmly on a level surface and try to avoid uneven or soft muddy ground.
Never sit or stand on the top of the ladder or on the paint tray. These things were not designed to support the weight of a human being.
While on the ladder, beware of balance. If you have to stretch or lean to reach your work area, you are too far away. It’s much safer to climb down, reposition the ladder, and start again.
Always have a spotter. Never climb a ladder with some else nearby to keep an eye on your or to hold the ladder.
Another way to stay safe outside this fall is to make sure all the outdoor light fixture are working properly. During this time of the year there are fewer daylight hour so having a light outside can protect your from falls and your house from neighborhood crime.