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Tips to Avoid Spring Cleaning Mishaps

Whether inside or out, projects require care and caution

SUNDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Springtime for many people brings extra cleaning and yard work -- but if they're not careful, it might also bring a trip to the ER.

Mishaps with ladders, gardening tools and lawn mowers alone cause hundreds of thousands of injuries a year that require medical attention, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many of these household accidents are preventable, says one group.

"Many spring-cleaning injuries occur when people rush or do not follow the proper safety precautions," Dr. Danton Dungy, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a news release from the academy, which offered tips for avoiding such accidents and injuries:

  • Before starting a project, put on proper protective clothing for the task -- a hat, gloves or goggles, as appropriate.
  • Before using products such as cleaners, paints and pesticides, read the label and follow usage directions carefully. Afterward, store all chemicals according to the label directions and make sure they're out of the reach of children and pets.
  • When lifting, carrying or bending, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and upright and bend at the knees, while tightening the stomach muscles. Use your legs, not your back, to lift as you stand. And get help with items that are too big, heavy or oddly shaped.
  • When trying to reach high areas in your house, use a small ladder or sturdy step-stool rather than risk standing on furniture that could tip or slide.
  • When using a ladder, always make sure its feet are secure and on a flat, firm surface. Never use a ladder on uneven, soft or wet ground or flooring. To avoid reaching too high or leaning too far to one side on a ladder, keep your bellybutton within the top step and sides of the ladder.
  • Avoid long periods of repetitive-motion activities -- such as raking, digging or pruning -- while doing yard work. Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration.

More information

The Home Safety Council has more home safety tips.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, March 2009

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