As the weather warms up, it’s always exciting to get outdoors again after a long winter. Besides participating in fun activities, many homeowners also use spring as an opportunity to tend to their garden and fix up parts of their home that may have gone unattended in the cold months. The sun is (finally!) shining, flowers are blooming, and weather changes quickly. Unfortunately, time spent in the garden, at the playground, or on vacation can often lead to dangerous injuries. Avoid trips to the emergency room with these crucial spring safety tips.
Yard Work & House Work
Lawnmowers & Maintenance
The most common lawnmower-related injuries include cuts to the hands and feet and burns. Injuries can also occur when loose objects ricochet off the blades. To stay safe while mowing the lawn, always read the instruction manual for your mower! Make sure you perform routine maintenance and that the blades remain sharp. Before cutting the lawn, it’s crucial that the grass is dry, there are no toys or other items hidden in the lawn, and children remain a safe distance away.
Many homeowners use the warm spring weather as an opportunity to catch up on chores and routine maintenance both inside and outside the house. To avoid broken bones, bruises, and cuts resulting from falls, a safe, stable ladder is a staple for any household. The ladder must be set up on hard, level ground or on a sturdy board if necessary. Always have 3 points of contact with the ladder itself, whether it’s two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. There should only ever be one person on the ladder at a time and you should always wear a tool belt and not carry tools by hand. Make sure the ladder extends at least three feet above the roof or whatever you are trying to reach and never stand higher than the third rung of the ladder from the top.
Check all tools & equipment
It’s important to inspect tools that have gone unused all winter and make sure they are in good shape and safe to work with. Before using any hand or power tool, check wood handles for splinters, and metal tools for rust or corrosion. Dull cutting tools can be very dangerous. Shovels, garden tools, and other bladed tools should be sharpened at least once every season. After using tools, clean off any mud, oil, or dust.
Gardening (yes, seriously)
Gardening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the springtime, and practicing a few important safety tips will ensure the process is a painless and enjoyable one. Make sure you dress to protect yourself from the sun, sharp tools, chemicals, and pests (gloves, SPF, hat, etc.). Carefully sharpen garden tools to ensure they are safe to use. Finally, store sharp tools and chemicals where children and pets cannot reach them.
Sun protection & accidents
We’ve all experienced the terror of temporary blindness from sun glare while behind the wheel. After daylight savings, it’s difficult to be sure when and where the glare will take place and drivers are often unprepared. Before driving anywhere, make sure you have sunglasses in the car to protect your eyes and prevent accidents due to sun glare.
April showers often bring dangerous road conditions. Drivers should be prepared for wet weather and potential hazards on the road. The road can be slippery from even a small amount of rain, and heavier precipitation can cause flooding and loose debris on the road. If you drive too fast on wet roads, you can hydroplane, losing complete control of steering. Drivers must take extra precaution while driving in slippery springtime conditions.
Starting up exercise too fast
With beach season right around the corner, many of us feel the pressure to get in better shape fast. However, it can be taxing on your muscles (especially your heart) to begin intense exercise without acclimating your body first. It’s important to listen to your body and start slow to learn your exercise capacity. A great workout to ease into more physical activity is taking a spring walk.
Slips & Falls from wet weather
Running or walking in the rain can also be hazardous. The weather can change quickly in the spring season and many of us are anxious to get outside shortly after a storm. It’s important to take extra precaution when the ground is wet to prevent slips and falls.
Poor conditions from plows
Whether on sidewalks, driveways or roads, plows can do damage to surfaces. This wear and tear can go unnoticed for months if it’s hidden under the snow. If not repaired properly, plow damage can cause falls or even bike or car accidents. If you are a homeowner, take some time to inspect your property and look for cracks, holes and other problematic areas. There are many simple fixes for cracks and holes that you can find at your local home improvement store.
Runners, also take notice! Getting back out on the road may be an arduous task, with more volatile surfaces from plows and the expansion and contraction of ice and blacktop.
If you spend a lot of time in wooded or grassy areas in the spring, you are at increased risk of being infected with Lyme disease from tick bites. Ticks like bare skin, so covering exposed skin with clothing is the first step of prevention. After spending time outdoors, inspect your skin for ticks and remove them immediately to prevent the bacteria from entering your bloodstream. If you are uncomfortable with removing a tick yourself please seek medical attention. Tick removal within 2 days reduces the risk of infection.
Spring is a great time for children to take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy public parks and playgrounds. Talk to your children about safety hazards around the playground and make sure they know how to use playground equipment properly. Parental supervision is also important on the playground to ensure children are playing safely.
Trampoline jumping is a fun outdoor activity for children and a great opportunity for exercise. However, trampoline accident-related injuries are not uncommon. Parents should make sure that trampolines are on level ground and have safety nets attached. Make sure kids know the dangers of trampolines and supervise them while jumping to ensure there is no roughhousing.
Spring Break incidents
Many families and college students take advantage of the break from school to travel during the spring season. Tourists should take general travel precautions including packing appropriately for the climate and activities planned (sunscreen, bug spray, sneakers, etc.), staying vigilant, and avoiding flashing money or valuables in public. It’s also important to drink responsibly and look out for fellow vacationers who may be overly intoxicated.
Heat stroke (this doesn’t only happen in the Summer!)
Heat stroke is caused by dangers physical exertion or exposure to high temperatures. Weather can change rapidly in the spring so be sure to check the forecast and avoid wearing excess clothing on hotter days. It’s also important to stay hydrated and make sure air conditioning is easily accessible in situations when you are at increased risk.