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Fall Chores Spark Safety Advice From Orthopaedic Surgeons

ROSEMONT, Ill., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's that time of year again and the fall season has begun. As each changing season brings its own set of activities and chores, families start thinking about outdoor yardwork. From raking leaves, to mowing lawns and using ladders, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers outdoor safety advice to make sure your autumn clean-up is as safe and injury-free as possible.

  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2008, about 617,000 people were injured due to rakes, other outdoor garden supplies and ladders alone.

"Many people work vigorously in the yard during the autumn season and it often takes a toll on your body," stated Laurence Laudicina, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and spokesperson for the AAOS. "Raking leaves and cleaning out the gutters are popular seasonal chores and can lead to falls or strain to your back and upper body," he added.

Rakes and Pains

Orthopaedic surgeons and the AAOS recommend:

  • Warming up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise.
  • Using a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength. Wearing gloves or using a rake with padded handles can prevent blisters.
  • Keeping your vision free of impediment, such as hats or scarves and being aware of large rocks, low branches, tree stumps or uneven surfaces.
  • Varying your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often, and when picking up leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Wearing shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles because wet leaves can be slippery.
  • Not overfilling leaf bags, especially if the leaves are wet. To avoid back injury, you should be able to carry bags comfortably.
  • Never throwing leaves over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion required to do so places undue stress on your back.


Homeowners often take time to clean the leaves out of gutters, check roof integrity and wash windows before the winter begins. However, injuries from ladder use are very common. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2008, about 539,000 people went to the doctor, emergency room or hospital due to a ladder injury.

To stay safe on a ladder and avoid injuries:

  • Inspect the ladder for loose screws, hinges or rungs. Clean off any mud, dirt or liquids.
  • Make sure all four legs rest on a firm, level surface. Avoid uneven ground or soft, muddy spots.
  • Always face a ladder when climbing and descending.
  • Be sure that any ladder is fully open and locked, before climbing.
  • Ladders should be angled about 75 degrees from the ground.
  • Wear shoes with nonslip soles on ladders with rounded rungs.
  • Never sit or stand on the top of the ladder or on its pail shelf. It is not designed to carry your weight.
  • Choose the right ladder for the job. A step stool or utility ladder is good for working at low or medium heights, for jobs such as washing windows. Extension ladders are appropriate for outdoors to reach high places, for when you need to clean gutters or inspect the roof.

For more information on autumn yard and ladder safety and other injury prevention tips, visit

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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