With the days of late summer fading out, you’re starting to police the yard and deciding what to tackle once cooler temperatures prevail. Before the first leaf falls (if you live someplace where the seasons noticeably change), you can start ridding the deck of spent potted flowers, prepping a fresh patch of ground for bulb planting, clearing yard debris, cutting back shrubs, touching up the porch paint — you get the picture.
Along with restoring curb appeal, comes the sore muscles and potential injuries that can befall anyone who picks up a rake or climbs a ladder, if they’re not very careful.
The following tips may help you stay out of harm’s way:
- Wear protective clothing (glasses, gloves, long pants, and sturdy shoes or boots) when clearing branches and debris, or using a chain saw, electric clippers, or a lawn mower. Covering up can help avoid scratches and scrapes — or worse, the loss of a finger or toe.
- Make sure your rake (or hoe, or shovel) is in proportion to your height and weight for ease of use.
- Remember to bend at the knees when lifting heavy dirt, lawn bags, pots, rocks, or even mulch. Don’t overfill lawn bags with grass or twigs (use two bags, and make two trips if need be).
- Don’t sling bags over a shoulder or twist — that’s a sure way to injure your back or neck. Use a wheelbarrow.
- Never climb a ladder unassisted or in high wind! It’s always safer to have someone “spot” you at the base.
- “Plant” the ladder firmly on an even, secure piece of ground (not in mud, in wet leaves, or on a slope). Follow safety directions.
- Turn off the lawn mower engine and allow it to cool before doing any maintenance. Use a long stick (not hands or feet!) when cleaning debris underneath.
- Always supervise children doing yard chores. Don’t let them handle items with blades, or ride on mowers with you! Children need to be at least 12 years of age before using a push lawn mower, and 16 before operating a riding one. Keep pets away from machinery or tools as well.
Know your own strength and be smart about taking breaks. Taking it slowly, and playing it safe, will help prevent injury in your own backyard!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano