Safety Gardening Safety Guide By Urgent Care, May 12, 2014 Gardening provides great health benefits like physical exercise and stress relief. Although it’s a terrific hobby that keeps people active and enjoying the outdoors, it can also be dangerous. Every year, there are around 400,000 patients seen in the emergency department for injuries related to lawn and gardening accidents. We encourage you to use caution and follow these helpful tips to promote your gardening safety. Warm-up As with any physical exercise, it is important to make sure that your body is ready to work by properly stretching and warming up. This will help to reduce your risk of injury and fatigue while gardening. Make sure to focus on lower back, leg, and arm stretches to loosen the muscles that are utilized most while gardening. Protect Your Skin It is important to wear proper protective gear while gardening. We recommend that you wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and gloves to protect your skin from irritation, cuts, and insect bites. If you are using equipment such as weed whackers or lawn mowers, you should be sure to wear eyewear that will protect you from any ricocheting debris. Sunscreen should always be worn when working outdoors. Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to avoid sun damage and sunburn. Proper use of Tools and Chemicals Owning tools that work comfortably with your body can go a long way in the garden. Try looking for tools that are labeled “ergonomic,” which are designed to work naturally with your body to provide the most comfort. Before you begin, make sure that all of your tools are working properly. Follow all instructions and warning labels for your gardening equipment and chemicals. Know Your Limits Gardening can be very physically exhausting and back pain and fatigue are common complaints among gardeners. Take any necessary steps which may make this activity more comfortable for you, such as, using a stool to sit on, rather than kneeling on the ground. This will help to alleviate some of the strain on your back and knees. Be careful when lifting heaving objects such as mulch bags and potted plants and remember to bend at the knees and lift with both hands. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when necessary. It is also important to know your body’s limits and take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion. During these breaks, make sure that you’re drinking water to stay well hydrated. After your breaks, switch tasks for a while to avoid overworking one area of your body. With these Gardening Safety tips, you should be able to enjoy a wonderful garden or landscape all Summer long!