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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Tips for Doing it Safely

Spring is here.  (Actually, it has been feeling like summer in many parts of the country.)  With spring, comes more outdoor activities and it is important to keep safety in mind as you do those spring cleaning chores.  I thought I'd repeat my post from last year with some great spring cleaning tips:

Keep safety in mind during the springtime cleaning spree. So says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in a recent press release. Many people take advantage of the weather to clean both the inside and outside of their home, but there are many hazards associated with this springtime ritual. 

Statistics show that thousands of people injure themselves during their annual clean, whether it be using a step ladder, a lawn mower or moving furniture. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges people to take the proper safety precautions to reduce the number of spring cleaning-related accidents

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- In 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder;
- Over 41,000 Americans injured themselves while gardening or using gardening equipment;
- More than 127,000 were injured while operating a lawn mower.

- Proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending should be part of any spring cleaning project to avoid back injuries:
- Separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles.
- Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up; don’t try to lift any object by yourself if it is too heavy or an awkward shape.

- When gardening, avoid prolonged repetitive motions during activities such as digging, planting, trimming and pruning and take frequent breaks.

- Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture – such as a chair or the couch – when dusting high hard to reach areas.

- Ladders used for chores – such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters and trimming trees – should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.

- Use care with extension cords: be sure they are properly grounded. To avoid tripping or falling, do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways.

- When working on a ladder, over-reaching or leaning too far to one side can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Never climb a ladder without a spotter.

- When mowing the lawn, be sure to wear proper footwear and eyewear for protection:

- Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do.

- Children should be at least 12-years-old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16- years-old for a ride-on mower.

- Read product labels for proper use and wear protective clothing and gloves when using chemicals for gardening or cleaning. Store all chemicals at the appropriate temperature, which is usually indicated on the package – in a place that is out of reach of both children and pets and never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance.

- Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration and keep a cell phone within reach in case of accident or injury.

Here are some links to other useful information:

Gardening Health and Safety Tips (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Lawnmower, Snowblower Safety (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

Ladder Safety Guide (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

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