The weather is nice and it’s time to spruce up the house! You know — all of those to-do items that could not be accomplished in the cold of winter: cleaning the gutters, washing the windows, clearing out the piles of dead leaves, mending that hole in the fence, organizing the garage… But while you’re working on whittling down that list, keep safety at the top. The following outdoor safety tips will help you do just that.
Outdoor Safety Tip #1: Protect Your Skin
As a general rule, your skin should be covered from head to toe when doing your outdoor spring cleaning. That means long sleeves, long pants, closed toe shoes, and potentially a hat and gloves, depending on your task at hand. Yes, you may get hot and sweaty, but it’s more important to protect your skin and health. Lightweight fabrics and light colors will help keep you cool.
Don’t forget the SPF! Any exposed skin should be protected by sunscreen (this includes using a lip balm containing SPF).
Some specific considerations to keep in mind:
- If you’re cleaning gutters, make sure you wear thick suede-like gloves to protect against punctures (shards of metal, insect bites). Gloves also offer protection against infecton from bacteria-laden water, soil, or animal droppings.
- If you’re climbing ladders or up on a roof, make sure your clothing is not loose so it doesn’t snag on anything and cause you to lose your balance.
- If you’re doing yardwork, spray your clothing with an insect repellent containing DEET, to keep ticks at bay.
Outdoor Safety Tip #2: Protect Your Eyes
When it comes to outdoor safety tips, eye protection is often an afterthought for many. However, you should be proactive in protecting your eyes from:
- Pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals
- Flying debris (dirt, rocks, bark)
- UV rays from the sun
Evaluate the outdoor activity you will be doing and wear the appropriate eyewear.
Wear safety glasses with side protection when operating power equipment like lawn mowers or anything else that can turn twigs and pebbles into dangerous projectiles.
You’ll need goggles to prevent fertilizers and chemical mixtures from splashing into your eyes.
In some cases, like powerwashing, you may want to go a step further and wear a full face shield.
Even if you’re not using power equipment or harsh chemicals, simply being outside for extended periods can cause damage to your eyes. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems. So, it’s a good habit to wear a pair of sunglasses for your eye health, even on cloudy days. Find a pair that blocks 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
Outdoor Safety Tip #3: Respect Heights
This is one of the most important outdoor safety tips, simply because of how common height-related injuries are. Each year, there are over 164,000 injuries treated in the ER due to falls from ladders. So, whether you’re clearing out the gutters, squeegeeing your second story windows, or repairing a leaky roof, be especially diligent once your two feet leave the ground. Make sure your ladder is in proper working condition, on a level surface, and positioned solidly. Adhere to basic ladder safety tips, like not reaching too far to either side of the ladder when you’re on it.
If you’re on a roof, always move slowly and cautiously. Wear shoes that give you ample traction, like rubber-soled shoes. Keep your tools close around you, and eliminate distractions, like cell phones.
Outdoor Safety Tip #4: Use Power Equipment Properly
Whether you’re mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, or pruning trees, power equipment can be dangerous if you don’t use it correctly. Every year, about 143,000 people require a visit to the ER due to injuries from using power equipment. Follow the manufacturers’ usage and safety instructions for equipment. A good practice before the start of the season is to make sure your equipment is properly serviced and maintained (by a professional if need be!).
Outdoor Safety Tip #5: Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Before you dive into an outdoor task, examine the area first. Look for hidden hazards such as poison ivy/oak/sumac, wasp nests, or anything else that could be obscured. You don’t want to be caught unaware!
Additionally, if you’re wearing hearing protection while operating loud equipment, or listening to music with headphones, you may not be able to hear what is going on around you. In these cases it’s especially important to remain vigilant to your surroundings. Watch for moving vehicles if you’re near the street, and be aware of any children or pets running around your work area. It’s too easy for them to get into hazardous chemicals you may be using, come too close to dangerous equipment, or cause you to lose focus and cause an accident yourself.
Outdoor Safety Tip #6: Don’t Overdo It
In our Hampton Roads urgent care clinics, we have seen countless injuries from overexertion.
Our advice is: know your limitations!
If you have many outdoor tasks to do, split them up and take breaks. If something is too heavy / cumbersome / difficult, get a friend to help you. If the task at hand is especially strenuous or out of your wheelhouse, hire a professional for the job.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause dizziness, headaches, sluggishness, and lightheadedness. That’s a recipe for disaster when you’re doing something outdoors that requires you to be alert and vigilant.
Use These Tips to Stay Safe Outdoors!
Fixing up your house can be rewarding and satisfying. If you follow these tips, you can check all items off your outdoor spring cleaning list, then sit back and relax!
In case you do have an accident or injury, In and Out Express Care has four convenient urgent care clinics in Hampton Roads. When you need immediate medical attention for a non-life-threatening situation, come see our friendly doctors. No appointment is ever necessary.