Gardening can be a great way to simply enjoy the outdoors, beautify your yard, plant fruits or vegetables and get physical activity. No matter the reason, be aware of some basic gardening health and safety tips.
WHAT TO WEAR
Nature’s power can be deceptive, so protect your body from the sun, plants, soil and insects.
- Dress in light loose-fitting clothing, long sleeves and pants, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and sunscreen to lower the risk for sunburn and skin cancer
- Pull on gloves to lower the risk for skin irritations, cuts and soil contaminants
- Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes for support and protection
- Apply insect repellent to dissuade mosquitoes and ticks, which can carry diseases
WHAT TO DO
It’s easy to get enthusiastic and overdo, so take care with your body to avoid physical injuries, and do a warmup if you’re planning heavy physical work.
- Follow proper lifting, squatting and reaching techniques; for example, when lifting from the ground, start from a squatting position and bend from the knees to protect your back
- Avoid prolonged repetitive motions such as digging, raking, trimming, pruning or planting that may cause skin, tendon or nerve irritation
- Protect your muscles from overuse by varying your gardening activities and rotating tasks
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for chemicals and use mowers and other equipment properly, as powered and unpowered tools and equipment can cause serious injury
- Remain aware of hazards and distractions around you; focus on one task at a time
WHEN TO REST
Gardening for even short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems.
- Monitor closely your activities and time in the sun to lower your risk for heat-related illness
- Watch for signs of heat-related illnesses, such as high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion or unconsciousness
- Drink more fluids, especially water, if you’re outside in hot weather for most of the day; don’t wait until you are thirsty
- Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar
- Rest in the shade and immediately stop working if you experience breathlessness or muscle soreness
Following these tips will help ensure your gardening season is safe and injury free.
“Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Gardening Health and Safety Tips” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.