Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents

SUNDAY Sept. 21, 2008 -- As you go about your autumn yard and housework, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent injuries, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Raking leaves is vigorous exercise, and you need to warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise. You also need to:

  • Use a rake that's comfortable for your height and strength. Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters.
  • Don't wear hats or scarves that interfere with vision and beware of large rocks, low branches, trees stumps and uneven surfaces.
  • Alternate your leg and arm positions often. When you pick up piles of leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Wet leaves can be slippery. Wear shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.
  • Don't overfill leaf bags, especially if the leaves are wet. To avoid back injury, you should be able to carry the bags comfortably.
  • When raking, don't throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side, because that kind of twisting motion places too much stress on the back.

Cleaning gutters, checking the condition of the roof and washing windows are common autumn chores that require the use of a ladder. Last year in the United States, more than 532,000 people were injured in falls from ladders, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The AAOS offers the following ladder safety tips:

  • Inspect the ladder for loose screws, hinges or rungs. Clean off accumulated mud, dirt or liquids.
  • Make sure all ladder legs are on a firm, level surface. Don't place a ladder on uneven, soft or muddy ground.
  • Before you climb a ladder, make sure all ladder locks and safety braces are engaged.
  • Never sit or stand on the top of a step ladder or pail shelf. These areas weren't designed to hold heavy weights.
  • Select the proper ladder for the job. A step ladder is good for washing windows and other jobs at low or medium heights. Use an extension ladder for high places, such as cleaning the gutters.
  • Don't stretch or lean from your ladder to reach a work area. Climb down the ladder and reposition it closer to your work area.

More information

The Home Safety Council offers many home safety tips.

Posted: September 2008


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