The weather is warming up, flowers are blooming, and the sun is finally out after unprecedented snow around the country! Every year around this time, we are prompted to clean our homes, fix up the garden, and be outside. This involves movements like lifting, bending, moving heavy objects, and climbing up ladders, among other tasks, which can lead to injuries. Read on for tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this season.
Falls are the second cause of unintentional death in homes in the U.S. and cause about 8.9 million emergency room visits, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC also provides tips to prevent slips and falls:
- Avoid freshly mopped floors
- Keep all electrical cords away from high-traffic areas in the house
- Keep your cleaning materials and other frequently used items in easy-to-reach areas
- Clean up obstacles such as paper, boxes, books, toys and shoes from stairs and main walkways
- Make sure you have adequate lighting when you are working or cleaning inside or outdoors
- While working on your house or lawn, make sure you wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant soles
- Remove debris from walkways outside
- Check the condition of your steps and walkways every so often, and repair any damages
- Don’t stand on a chair, table or other item with wheels while trying to get to high reaches; use a ladder instead
On that note, make sure that when you use a ladder, you keep at least three points of contact with it, whether two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot. Also, make sure the base is on a flat, dry surface, and climb facing the ladder, using the rungs for grip instead of the side rails. Finally, use a tool belt so you don’t have to climb with tools in hand, climb down one rung at a time, don’t lean or reach too far, and do not use your ladder during windy or inclement weather.
If using lawn tools, keep these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in mind:
- Dress appropriately: Wear close-fitting long pants and long-sleeved shirts, no jewelry, eye protection, ear plugs and sturdy gloves
- Remove objects from the area where you are working so you are not injured if they are thrown by your equipment
- Never let a child operate or ride on a riding mower, and supervise teens using outdoor power equipment
- Unplug electric tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gas-powered tools before you make any adjustments or clean near moving parts
- Do not use electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to protect against electrocution
If you find that you have seriously injured yourself, whether by falling, or cutting yourself on lawn/wood tools, and it is an emergency, please call 911 immediately so you may be taken to an emergency department. Otherwise, print out this handy guide to Know When to Go to the ER, and stick it on your fridge for quick reference in the future or go to your general practitioner for assistance with non-urgent medical needs.
Happy Home Improvement!