The air is crisp, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and colorful leaves cover the front yard. Fall is here! Whether you are raking leaves before pickup day or making sure your plants are ready for the winter, it’s important to take care of your body to avoid injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 40 million people are sent to the emergency room each year due to yard work injuries. We want to help prevent you from being a part of that statistic.
Allison Holbritter, a WellSpan Urgent Care nurse practitioner, shares how you can stay safe while you're preparing your yard for the winter.
Stretch and hydrate
Walk and stretch. This keeps your muscles from getting strained and relieves tension. Don’t overexert yourself and stay hydrated.
Take a breather
It is okay to take a break! Short, frequent breaks can prevent over exertion, as well as allow you a moment to take a drink. Chest pain or shortness of breath can be signs of a heart attack. If you experience these symptoms, call 911.
Dress for the weather
It’s important to dress appropriately. Lightweight and natural fibers keep the body warm without trapping sweat. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants will protect your skin from bugs, scratches, and sun exposure. Closed-toed shoes or boots will protect your feet and minimize the risk of falling, while gloves will protect your hands from scrapes and cuts.
Be mindful of your posture
When doing yard work, avoid only using your dominant arm. Make sure to switch arms periodically to work your muscles on both sides of your body equally. When picking up items, bend at the knees and not your waist. Don’t overfill leaf bags. To avoid injury when lifting bagged leaves, you should be able to handle the bags comfortably.
Use proper equipment
Make sure the rake you are using is the appropriate size for your body and not too heavy. If you are using power equipment to get rid of leaves, make sure the equipment is properly maintained and that you have read the owner's manual for proper use.
If you do find you’ve overdone it, WellSpan Urgent Care is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to care for you. Visit www.wellspan.org/programs/wellspan-urgent-care/ to find convenient care in your own neighborhood.