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Gardening Safety

It is that time of year again... warming weather means getting back out to gardening and lawn care. Many people find these enjoyable tasks and, by following these recommendations, hopefully it will allow you to continue to enjoy these tasks for many spring and summer seasons to come.

Dress to protect:

  • Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes and long pants when using a lawn mower
  • Protect your hearing; if you have to raise your voice to be heard talking to someone close to you, the noise can be harmful to you
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands
  • Use insect repellant
  • Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, long sleeve shirts, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats

Put safety first:

Exercise caution when using machinery and sharp hand tools

  • Avoid use of machinery if taking medication that can make you drowsy or impair judgment or reaction time
  • Unplug/disconnect spark plugs prior to making adjustments or clearing jams from moving parts
  • Never use electrical power tools in wet/damp conditions
  • Make sure extension cords are in good condition, rated for outdoor use, and of the proper gauge for the current capacity of the power tools
  • Avoid tools with form-fitted handles as these can lead to overuse injuries (handles are not one size fits all...)
  • Estimated 400,000 garden tool-related injuries/year
  • Watch for children both in and around where you are working. Never assume they are going to stay in the same place and away from where you are. Use extra caution when going backwards, turning corners, etc.
  • Clear the area of debris where you will be working

Follow instructions with use of chemicals. Don't smoke around flammable materials.

Watch for heat-related illnesses

  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol or sugary drinks
  • Take frequent breaks; seek shade
  • Signs of heat-related illnesses include rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion
  • Watch for people more at risk for heat-related illnesses: Children under 4, People over 65, People on medication for depression, insomnia, poor circulation
  • Eat healthy foods

Use proper body mechanics with lifting

  • Lift with your legs and keep your back straight
  • If something is too heavy, seek help with lifting
  • Avoid repetitive motions to avoid overuse injuries
  • Avoid prolonged postures, especially with bending over; kneel on a soft pad/knee pads

Know your limits:
Listen to your body, begin with light activity and increase to your tolerance

By following these simple recommendations, your gardening and lawn care experience can be a pain free and enjoyable one.

Resources:
Gardening Health and Safety Tips. http://www.cdc.gov
Hand Surgeons Urge Safety in the Garden. American Society for Surgery of Hand 2009
Garden Safety Tips. North Haven Gardens
Lawn and Garden Safety Tips. US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Last Updated: 3/18/2011