WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - As autumn comes to the Miami Valley, many of us will find ourselves doing routine maintenance around our homes associated with the season.
Before we set out to clean the gutters, trim trees, rake leaves and tackle whatever other chores are on your “to do” list, let’s take a moment to consider what can be done to accomplish these tasks safely. About 42 million people get hurt performing fall tasks and seek emergency room treatment each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some simple tips to avoid common autumn injuries while working around the yard:
Before you start
- Do a brief site survey. Check for suspended dead tree limbs, power-line locations that might affect safe ladder use and areas that could bring you in proximity to traffic.
- Always contact utility providers before digging.
- Inspect the ladders, extension cords, hand tools (powered as well as manually operated) and other equipment you will be using to ensure it’s in good operating condition. Don’t forget to give your personal protective equipment a hard look as well. If you discover any equipment that doesn’t operate as the manufacturer intended, get it repaired by a qualified person or replace it.
- Carefully consider ladder placement — level, hard surfaces are a must and keep power-line locations in mind any time you move the ladder.
While you work
- Actually use the PPE! Pruning shears can slice into your finger or work glove. No one wants to get hurt, especially when equipment that could have prevented it was available but not in use.
- Only do what you know how to do and are physically able to accomplish. If in doubt, get help.
- Take your time. Haste often motivates us to reach sideward from ladders rather than reposition them, use a screwdriver as a chisel or pry bar, and other unsafe practices.
- Remember to maintain situational awareness. Children and pets can and do place themselves in a hazardous area without warning or forethought.
After the work is done
- Carefully examine all equipment that was used before returning it to storage locations.
- Clear the worksite of any limbs or forgotten tools (like that rusty hammer I rediscovered last spring) to make sure there are no tripping or other potential hazards present.
Enjoy your time outdoors and keep safety in mind before, during and after each project.