Get Your Garden On Safely

Lisa Spears

For most of us, gardening is a form of relaxation. While some people refer to it as puttering around, gardening can be an opportunity to just enjoy the quiet beauty or listen to the birds.

Nonetheless, you may be surprised to hear that there are about 200,000 gardening accidents a year. People love to take shortcuts and, in doing so, they increase the likelihood of injury. The most common accident: falling.

Last month I took a spill and sprained my foot. Rather than wearing closed-toe boots or shoes, I was wearing flip-flops. I should have gotten a ladder, but noooo… I chose to use a cinder block horizontally. This cost me a trip to the doctor, coupled with x-rays and a week on ice (not the fun kind, either).

Ladder Safety

Ladder safety involves its own set of precautions. Never, ever place anything on the top rung where you can’t see it or potentially forget it’s there. It may choose to remind you in a rather rude manner when it falls on your head. Make sure your ladder is on a level surface or somehow anchored. The ultimate protective measure would be to have someone hold the ladder for you (and be available to get help if necessary). Lastly, standing sideways on the ladder or reaching beyond your shoulder height is a huge no-no.

Power Tools

In the world of power tool accidents, the conventional lawn mower takes first place. A chainsaw may be inherently more dangerous, but lawn mowers are used with greater frequency and thus account for a larger number of injuries. Unfortunately, any accident involving a lawnmower is likely to be severe.

Mower Blades

Mower blades rotate at 3,000 revolutions per minute and can throw inanimate objects as far as 50 feet. Before mowing, comb your yard for metal spikes, lawn ornaments, dog toys, large branches, rocks, etc. Remove them to avoid the risk of these objects kicking out from under the blade carriage and injuring you or an innocent bystander. Under no circumstances should you bend down and remove a rock or grass clump while the blade is turning. Surprisingly, thousands of people do this each year and end up becoming a statistic. Also, practical and protective boots or closed-toe shoes are a must. Lastly, never mow a wet lawn or pull the mower backward. We may all do this sometimes, but it’s not recommended. Nor is it safe.

Watch the Kidos

Take special precautions while mowing if children can access your yard. As anyone with children will tell you, kids are quick. Inasmuch as mowers of all kinds are loud, children might not be heard or seen if they want to visit you while you are mowing, especially if you’re in reverse. Sitting on mom or dad’s lap when they’re driving a riding mower is not safe either. Please also remember, if you need to step away — even if it’s just for a second — turn the motor off.

Your garden should provide you with enjoyment and leisure. Yes, it sometimes requires work, but the rewards are great and with a few simple precautions you can keep it from becoming a scary or dangerous place.

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