With the arrival of warmer temperatures, millions of Americans have begun their annual spring cleaning rituals. From gutter and window cleaning to intense yard work, indoor and outdoor spring-cleaning activities can lead to overexertion and injury if appropriate safety measures aren’t followed.
According to a 2010 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 35,000 people were injured using a stepladder, 41,000 were hurt while gardening or using gardening equipment and more than 127,000 people obtained injuries while operating a lawn mower.
“When warm weather hits, many people feel pressured to get everything done right away, but it’s important to pace yourself by easing into activities,” said Dheeraj Taranath, DO, Regional Medical Director for MedExpress.
“Not surprisingly, it’s common to be more sedentary during the winter, which means our bodies may not be ready for full-blown spring activities. This can lead to unfortunate and mostly preventable injuries.”
For those gearing up to clean up the clutter and prep for the summer season, MedExpress’ Dr. Taranath offers these tips for avoiding common injuries:
- Watch repetitive motions – The use of specific muscles over and over again can result in overuse. Alternate between activities and try not to extend past your body’s natural reach when cleaning windows or scrubbing floors.
- Clean in well-ventilated areas – If using chemical cleaners, open windows or doors to allow fresh air to circulate. Carefully read product labels and follow the safety instructions.
- Practice ladder safety – Place ladders for clearing gutters or washing windows on a dry, solid and level surface. Inspect ladders to be sure they are stable. Use a step stool to avoid using chairs or furniture to reach high areas.
- Use caution when pulling weeds – Make sure you know what you are pulling and wear gardening gloves. That weed may actually be poison ivy or another irritant. If working in a grassy or wooded area, consider using a DEET-containing insect repellant to help minimize exposure to ticks.
- Protect your back – Lift by bending your knees when carrying bags of mulch, rocks or flower pots. Ask for help when moving furniture, especially up or down stairs. Remember, sprains and strains can occur while you are scrubbing the floor or pulling weeds.
- Wear appropriate protective gear – Utilize sunscreen liberally and include gloves, long pants, eye gear and sturdy shoes as part of your standard outdoor cleaning wardrobe. These precautionary measures are especially important when you are handling yard chemicals and fertilizers or avoiding rusty nails or other sharp items in the yard.
- Inspect lawn and power tools prior to use – Read product labels and make sure all equipment is in proper working order prior to use. Make sure extension cords are grounded and not extended across walkways.
As a neighborhood medical center, MedExpress offers basic wellness and prevention services, employer health services, and can treat injuries and illnesses, including broken bones, cuts, burns, colds and flu.