There’s no place like home … to injure yourself. In much the same way that most car accidents take place within five miles of home, most of our injuries take place on our own properties. As people head outside to embark on various projects, some will end in aches, sprains, and worse. Here’s a list of common back yard injuries and some yard work safety tips.
Most Dangerous Yard Work Supplies
- Fertilizers and Insecticides
- Hedge Clippers
- Shovel and Rake
Lawn Mower Accidents
Your lawn mower is the most dangerous tool in the shed. Both push mowers and lawn tractors feature motor-driven blades on a moving carriage. The risk of injuries ranges from carbon monoxide poisoning to burns to critical injury from blades. More than 80,000 people go to the emergency room each year because of lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While some injuries are minor, 70 of those injuries are fatal and 5,000 involve children. American Society of Plastic Surgeons president, Dr. Jeffrey Janis says more than 600 children lose a limb to lawn mower accidents every year. “Lawn mowing can unexpectedly become a dangerous activity, especially when children are near. It’s imperative that operators take proper precautions and eliminate all risks to reduce these traumatic injuries.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns you never to leave a motor idling in an enclosed garage, and always walk the area that you’re about to mow. Look for any debris or objects that could damage your blades and become flying projectiles. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes, and sturdy shoes with sure-grip soles, never sneakers, or sandals. They also advise small children not be allowed on a riding mower or near the lawn when the rotary mower is in use. Finally, READ the owner’s manual and make sure you’re familiar with all safety features
Falls From Ladders
Falls are the leading cause of at-home injuries, and once you add ladders into the equation, all bets are off. But a few precautions can keep you from becoming another statistic. Start with inspecting your ladder before you climb aboard. Look out for loose rungs or hardware, and don’t climb a ladder unless you are wearing footwear with a good grip. Be mindful of your ladder position: Place it on a firm, level surface out of the range of any swinging doors.
When you’re on a ladder, follow the “three-points-of-contact rule.” Always have at least two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder. When tackling a project like cleaning the gutters, ask someone to hold the ladder steady for you at the base. Don’t stand on the top rung of a ladder (the one that says “not a step”) and avoid facing outward from the ladder. Following these simple tips can help keep you safe no matter how high you climb.
Chainsaw and Hedge Trimmer Mishaps
No one is likely to underestimate the potential for injury with outdoor power equipment. Yet every year, doctors see a huge influx of injuries after storms, when people are dealing with large numbers of downed trees. To avoid injury, operators should always wear gloves, long pants, shoes, and eye protection. Make sure your power tools are in good working order, and extension cords are secured.
Lawn Care Catastrophes
One major component of lawn care is aeration — the act of piercing your compacted lawn with a specialized piece of equipment to help your turf “breathe.” While this is arguably the best thing you can do to improve the quality of your yard’s life, your back might disagree. Aeration requires either a spike aerator or a core aerator. Both are heavy tools you must push across your lawn. If you’re not in great shape, lifting and pushing one of these beasts can leave you with a serious back injury. If you’re aerating this year, make sure you lift and move the aerator carefully (with help if you need it) and maintain a good posture at all times.
Rakes are great for removing leaves, but you should be raked over the coals if you leave one outside when you’re finished. The sharp edges are especially dangerous around young children. A shovel, by itself, doesn’t pose many hazards, but before you go digging, it’s crucial that you call the utility company and make sure you’re not digging into a power line. One wrong move and you could be pushing up daisies instead of planting them.
As innocuous as it might seem, pulling those pesky weeds when you’re a bit out of shape can really lay you out if you’re not careful. Practice good form, bend at the knees and use your legs to pull, rather than just your arms. Consider wearing knee pads to ease the stress on your legs. You may want to start out slow and easy — when the weeds are still small — and work your way up to the big guys as you get conditioned over time.
Lawn Care Catastrophes
One major component of lawn care is aeration — the act of piercing your compacted lawn with a specialized piece of equipment to help your turf “breathe.” While this is arguably the best thing you can do to improve the quality of your yard’s life, your back might disagree. Aeration requires either a spike aerator or a core aerator. Both are heavy tools you must push across your lawn. If you’re not in great shape, lifting and pushing one of these beasts can leave you with a serious back injury.
Creating a thick green lawn can also leave you with a black lung! Heavy doses of chemical fertilizers and insecticides have been known to cause cancer. Your best bet is using natural fertilizers. Grass clipping will provide your lawn with the nutrition it needs without hurting you or your pets. You can avoid using pesticides by planting native plants and flowers that repel pests.
So when someone tells you, “It wouldn’t kill you to do a little yard work,” tell them it very well could! As excited as you may be to get started on your yard project this spring, don’t forget to take safety precautions to avoid any preventable injuries.