The leaves are changing colour, which can only mean one thing: fall is in full swing. With the changing of the seasons comes that perennial chore: the big outdoor clean-up.
As winter quickly approaches, many people are hurrying to get their yard work done before the cold weather sets in. Whether you’re raking leaves, closing your pool, or climbing up a ladder to clean the gutters, dangers can be involved. Remember to put your safety first!
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), keep these safety tips in mind when using a ladder and working up high:
- Choose the right ladder for the job
- Always place the ladder on a firm, level surface
- Before climbing a ladder, make sure all of its safety devices are engaged
- Before using your ladder, check that all the screws, hinges and rungs are secure, and clean off any mud or dirt
- Don’t stretch or lean over to reach while you work; climb down and reposition your ladder properly instead
Not only can raking leaves be exhausting, it can also cause injury. Be proactive and:
- Use the right size rake for your height
- Wear gloves if needed to prevent blisters
- Alternate your forward foot and switch up your hand positions often to give all your limbs a good workout
- When lifting a bag of leaves, keep your back straight and bend at your knees… not your hips!
- Don’t overfill the bags, especially if the leaves are wet — you should be able to carry them comfortably
- Since raking leaves is a vigorous activity, warm up for 10 minutes or so before getting started by briskly walking and stretching before and after
Finally, to avoid injury during a fall clean up, keep these tips in mind:
- Take your time. Not having time to do something properly means you haven’t chosen the right time to do it. Find or make the time.
- Pace yourself and be strategic. Like any physical exercise, nothing good comes from trying to do too much at once, especially if you’re using muscles that haven’t worked in a while. Give yourself several days to get things done and try to split up tasks based on what positions you’ll be in. This will let you get in a range of movements and save you from potential tendonitis, inflammation, or localized injuries.
- Wear the right shoes. A shoe with good support will provide better stability for activities like climbing ladders or repeatedly going up and down stairs.
- Use the right tools. Gutters need cleaning? Make sure you have a stable ladder that won’t throw you off balance. Raking leaves? Choose the right size rake to help keep your posture straight while working.
- Find strength in numbers. If you need to move a heavy load, ask for help. If you live alone and can’t do that, make multiple trips. Instead of moving heavy box, split its content and move it a little at a time. If that’s not possible, try to plan to move your stuff with someone who can help.
The changing of the seasons always comes with a clean-up. Even though fall yard work is a yearly occurrence, the people doing it don’t become more expert at it. While following these tips should help you prevent injuries, don’t forget to try to have a little fun getting it done!
Enjoy that crisp fall air!