As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” and it also goes without saying that after a long winter, you’re ready to get outdoors and do something with your yard. As any backyard gardening enthusiast can tell you, it never ends in May, yard work lasts all summer long and well into the fall; spring is just the beginning. With all that yard work comes the medley of tools and machinery that might make the job easier, but comes with inherent risks of injury and caution should always be taken. But it’s not just sharp whirling blades you need to be wary of. Practice yard work safety this summer by using the following four yard work safety tips and be safe all season long.
Wear the Appropriate Yard Work Clothing and Gear
Nothing is worse than seeing a guy out in his yard mowing away in shorts and sandals. It might feel comfortable to wear loose clothing and open toed shoes, but it couldn’t be more dangerous. Always wear long pants and sleeves to protect your arms and legs from flying debris. Closed toed shoes are a must, safety glasses with added ear protection are important (think sunglasses and ear buds playing your favorite tunes) and a good wide brimmed hat to protect you from the sun.
But it doesn’t just stop at clothes. Sunscreen and bug repellant are also important layers of clothing to consider when practicing yard work safety this summer. Cooling devices like an iced bandana also help to beat the heat and can help to prevent dangerous heat stroke and exhaustion.
Watch Your Back
Literally, watch your back. Lifting heavy objects like mulch bags or plants can really put a strain on your back. Be sure to always lift with your legs by bending at the knees rather than with your spine. The same goes for when you’re pulling weeds too. Lift with your knees bent and extend your legs rather than lean back to save yourself some pains and aches.
Speaking of picking through weeds-you’ll also want to be wary of coming into contact with any poisonous spiders, snakes or insects that can cause you harm. Always wear a pair of thick leather garden gloves when working with debris that might have a critter or two you don’t want your bare flesh coming into contact with. Plus, you never know when a rusty nail or broken piece of glass is going to rear its ugly head and bite you too.
This step might seem self-explanatory, but my friend’s 83 year old grandmother came out to give him a glass of lemonade for mowing her grass when she stepped right up to the mower deck edge with her slippers on and-in an instant, good will turned to tragedy. There are an estimated 180,000 lawnmower accidents each year, and the number one injury is due to blade contact followed by flying debris. My rule in my yard is if I’m using the lawnmower or the weed trimmer, just stay away until I’m done. Unless the house is on fire, stay away from the lawnmower while it’s in action to avoid potential injury.
It’s hot out there. Whether you live in the southern tip of steamy Florida or you live in north Alaska, in the summertime, it’s going to be hot and staying hydrated is a must no matter where you’re doing your yard work. The human body must consume a minimum of two liters of water a day to survive-that’s common hiker’s knowledge. I freeze a gallon jug halfway full of water the night before. When I wake up the next morning, I fill it the rest of the way with water. Then I can drag it around with me and have a cool bit of water to stay hydrated all day long.