With longer days and warmer weather, many of us are spending more time working outdoors on our gardens and lawns. Before you grab the edge-trimmer or load up the wheelbarrow, take a moment to ensure you’re following some best practices for safe yard work.
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) reminds homeowners that now is the time to make sure your equipment is ready to go:
- Inspect and clean equipment. Check for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take equipment to a qualified service representative. Remove dirt, oil, or grass stuck to the equipment.
- Drain old fuel. Fuel should not sit in your equipment’s tank for more than 30 days. Untreated gasoline (without a fuel stabilizer) left in the system will deteriorate, which may cause starting or running problems and even damage to the fuel system. “Old” fuel should be drained and removed, and then newly-purchased fuel should be added.
- Label fuel cans with the date of purchase and ethanol content of the fuel. Never put “old” gas in outdoor power equipment.
It’s easy to become so focused on our outside chores that we neglect to put our own safety first. The CDC recommends that gardeners:
- Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants to prevent injury when using power tools and equipment.
- Protect your hearing when using machinery.
- Wear gloves to lower the risk for skin irritations, cuts, and certain contaminants.
- Protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. Wear long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked in your socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots since ticks are usually located close to the ground. Use insect repellent containing DEET.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
Emergency Care for Bites and Stings
Working in the garden can sometimes lead to painful bites and stings. These can occur from a wide variety of insects, reptiles and animals. Most are not serious and cause only minor swelling, redness, pain and itching. In general:
- Care for bites and stings by washing the site with soap and water
- As a precaution, always remove jewelry from the affected area
- Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with an adhesive bandage or a pad
- Except for snakebites, apply an ice bag to reduce swelling and pain
Venomous bites and stings inject venom, or poison, into the body. Focus on slowing the absorption of venom into the body and quickly activating the EMS system for specialized treatment.
In the case of bee stings, it is possible for a life-threatening allergic reaction to arise. Monitor the person for at least 30 minutes to see if their condition worsens.
If you suspect a severe reaction is occurring, activate EMS without delay. If the person carries a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector, assist the person with using it.