Think Safety First When Working in the Yard

This is that wonderful time of year when many of us enjoy getting out and working in the yard. 

If you are like me, you have probably thought a time or two about winning that neighborhood association “yard of the month award”.  Maintaining a yard takes work and never comes easy.  To have quality landscape, it requires getting out in some extreme weather conditions and sometimes working with power equipment and chemicals.  During the summer months, we recommend for our older Americans to follow the professionals advice by staying hydrated, putting on plenty of sunscreen and not working in the hottest hours of the day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports even when you are a professional or a beginner, working in the yard requires physical activity. Health and safety should be a priority. The CDC offers these tips to help stay safe if you are considering yard work:

  • Protect your skin - Wear sunscreen, insect repellent, hats and sunglasses-Protecting your skin and eyes will help prevent skin and eye disease.
  • Wear safety clothing - Wearing good shoes, gloves, and goggles will help prevent injury especially when using power equipment.
  • Protect your ears - When operating machinery it is wise to use ear plugs or other protection.

According to a report by the Occupational Health and Safety Magazine, consumers are not taking proper precautions to prevent injury prior to mowing their lawn. Making good decisions before cranking up a lawn mower, weed eater or leaf blower are vital for yard safety. OHS recommends these valuable tips before getting started:

  • Read the owners manual - Ofter times these instructions are tossed aside, but the operator's instructions are so important to preventing injury.
  • Handle gasoline carefully - Fill up the gas tank prior to getting started and when the engine is cold.
  • Clear the area before you crank up any power machine - Remove sticks, stones and other debris to prevent objects from hitting bystanders. The most common injuries come from flying debris.
  • Clear the area of people and pets. Keep children under adult supervision. It is never a good idea for a young child to ride in your lap or be towed in a trailer behind a mower
  • Be aware when cranking mowers - Always start power equipment outdoors and never operate it while using alcohol or medicines that will impair your judgment.

If you are thinking about working with fertilizers and pesticides, they require additional precautions too. Cleveland clinic encourages those who are preparing to apply these applications to:

  • Check lawn products - Familiarize yourself with the ingredients and ask the experts at your local poison control center about anything you don't understand.
  • Consider zero-chemical lawn strategy - The EPA recommends these tips for maintaining grass without chemicals. Water your grass weekly, use a higher mower blade setting and don't cut more than one third of the grass length at a time. This will help prevent insect damage and promote strong root growth.
  • Stay off lawn after fertilizer and pesticide applications - It is a good idea to allow the applications to dry before walking or playing on the lawn.
  • Store pesticides in safe place - Store pesticides our of reach of children. Some of these chemicals can cause major health problems if ingested or come in contact with skin. Keep medical numbers handy in case of an emergency.

Always remember, when working in extreme weather conditions, pay close attention to heat related illness, including dizziness, nausea, confusion and rapid pulse.  If you suspect you are feeling lightheaded, short of breath or dizzy, it is a good idea to go into a cool place, drink fluids and rest.  If the symptoms continue, please consider calling your health care professional or 911.  The yard work can wait.



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