Now that the nice, warm spring weather is here, many people will be doing yard work--gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the gutters, and finding a variety of other outdoor tasks. Even if you regularly do work in your yard, safety needs to be a top priority. Often, you are using lawn mowers and other power equipment, ladders, and sharp tools. If you use these tools incorrectly or irresponsibly, you could land yourself in the emergency room with an injury.
Use these guidelines when mowing the lawn, gardening, and climbing ladders to reduce your risk of injury.
Lawn Mower Safety
Lawn mowers have the potential to cause cuts, crushed or broken bones, loss of fingers or toes, or burns if you aren’t careful. To put it in perspective, the energy transferred from contact with a moving lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 Magnum pistol. This is definitely not a time when you want to be lax with safety.
- Always make sure the mower is in proper working order. Inspect the lawn mower before you start the motor. Do not use the lawn mower if it is damaged or needs repairs.
- Never touch the blade with your hands or feet. Sometimes debris may be obstructing the blade. However, once the debris is removed, the blade could swing around and cut you. Instead, use a stick or broom handle to clear the obstruction.
- Wear protective gear. Always wear closed-in, sturdy shoes, long pants, gloves, and goggles when operating a lawn mower to protect yourself from the blade and debris.
- Beware of obstacles and uneven terrain. Remove items like stones, branches, and toys before mowing. If you need to mow on a slope, mow across with a push mower, or up and down with a riding lawn mower to prevent tipping over or having the mower fall on top of you. To avoid slipping, do not cut wet grass.
Gardening carries the risk of cuts, pulled muscles, and more serious injuries if you aren’t careful. However, gardening can be a great physical activity if you play it safe.
- Wear gloves. Gardening gloves will protect your hands from cuts, skin irritations, and contaminants. If you are using power tools, you should also wear safety goggles, closed-in shoes, and long pants.
- Try not to bend or reach too far. Bending and reaching are often the cause of pulled muscles. Try to get as close as you can to the area you are working on so you aren’t putting additional strain on your muscles.
- Use proper lifting techniques. If you need to lift and move heavier objects like a bag of potting soil, you need to lift correctly. Bend at the knees, rather than the waist. Use your legs to do most of the lifting work, rather than your back. Hold heavier items closer to your body so you have more control.
Cleaning gutters, trimming trees, and washing windows usually require the use of a ladder. A fall from a ladder can result in cuts, bruises, and fractures, so it’s important to keep yourself safe.
- Never set up a ladder on uneven ground. A ladder should only be set up on sturdy, even ground to prevent wobbling or movement while you are standing on it. Even if the ground appears even, check for soft, muddy spots.
- Do not use a damaged ladder. Before using the ladder, check for bent components and loose screws, hinges, and rungs.
- Dress appropriately. Wear non-slip shoes, and make sure your shoelaces are tied securely so that they do not catch on anything. Pants that are too long or baggy can also catch on the ladder.
- Use the ladder correctly. Only one person should be on the ladder at a time, and you should never stand on the top rung. Do not lean too far to either side; if you cannot reach, step off the ladder and move it closer.
Safety should always be a priority, even during routine yard work. Safety preparations may take some extra time, but it’s worth it to avoid injuries.