It’s common knowledge that people love the outdoors so it’s not surprising that the gardening obsession is in full swing as well. Now, gardening seems like a breezy hobby and safety may not come to mind at first, but it can easily lead to injury. Nearly 400,000 injuries happen each year due to mishaps in the garden using various tools from power tools to simple ladders.
Gardens are certainly the place to go to relax and unwind but this doesn’t mean you should throw safety measures out of the window. Before you start mowing the lawn, cutting, pruning, climbing up ladders or your latest DIY project, consider the following gardening safety tips to ensure your garden doesn’t become a danger zone.
You shouldn’t rush into garden work without getting prepared. Most of that work is quite physically demanding so it’s smart to warm up first. If you plan to work for a longer time, have your water bottle ready so you can stay hydrated. Also, avoid working in direct sun and during the hottest time of the day between 10 am and 3 pm. Wear long sleeves and trousers, a broad-brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen at all times. Wear sunglasses that meet the standards so you don’t risk temporary blindness and cataract due to ultraviolet radiation.
Once you’ve warmed up, be aware of your posture. It’s not just your whole body position that matters, but also your wrist angle when you hold the tools. Make sure it’s relaxed and in a neutral position because that’s when your grip strength is at its maximum. Research shows that you can lose up to 25% of grip strength if you keep your wrist bent. This may cause you to be imprecise or even drop your tool and hurt yourself.
Use The Right Tools Safely
Never use your bare hands for cleaning and digging. There may be sharp debris buried under piles of leaves or in the soil, so always use proper tools for work. Make sure you have the right tools for the right job and keep them in a safe and convenient place away from children’s reach.
Be careful when you use power tools as they can be quite sharp, and electric tools have cords that you need to unplug when not in use to avoid accidents. Only use tools for what they are intended. When purchasing shears or pruners, look for models that have a safety lock. Don’t go for form-fitting handles as they only fit one hand size perfectly, so if you have smaller or bigger hands, you’ll be putting more stress on your hand.
Finally, read the manufacturers’ instructions for the tool and make sure you follow them fully.
Always Wear Protective Gear
In addition to getting prepared for garden work and using the right tools safely, wearing protective garden clothing ranks high on the safety list. This is a crucial factor that will keep you safe from harm, sunburn, and injuries. It’s best to purchase a range of workwear consisting of various items such as trousers, shirts, jackets and vests, so you can put on or remove clothing depending on the work you do.
The bare essentials are safety goggles, garden gloves, long trousers and sturdy garden shoes. Gardening safety gloves are a must as they protect your hands from cuts or skin irritation. Depending on the work you plan to do, protective clothing with long sleeves can be very useful against insects, pests and chemicals. If your skin is photosensitive, never plan your garden work without long sleeves and trousers. If you’re planning to do more serious work and use heavier machinery to cut wood, make sure you wear hearing protectors and a nose and mouth mask to protect you from dust and potential allergic reactions or even asthma attacks.
Work Smart, Not Hard
Plan your work for the day so you don’t end up working harder than you have to. Divide work in chinks and take rest between. Avoid repetitive activities for a prolonged time, particularly if you’re over 60 or you suffer from spine issues, tendinitis or arthritis.
Have a garden chair nearby so you can take a break, and even use it for work instead of kneeling. It’ll take the stress away from your joints and spine. Bending is not good for the spine, but if you can’t work sitting down, at least consider using kneeling pads. Protect your back at all costs, so when you need to move heavy objects, work smarter not harder! Put the strain on your legs and keep the load close to your body. Even better, use levers and carts whenever possible.
In Case Of An Injury…
Sometimes, despite all precaution measures, injuries can happen and it’s important to know what to do. In case you cut your hand or finger, apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding using a clean cloth. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes or you start feeling numbness, go to the emergency room. The same goes if you fall and the dizziness won’t stop or you feel nauseous.
Therapeutic benefits of spending time outdoors and gardening have been well documented, but to be able to keep enjoying them, you need to stay safe. Keep these gardening safety tips in mind and your days spent gardening will be those of pure joy and fun!