Rakes and pains | September 12, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

- September 12, 2008

Rakes and pains

Tips to take the pain out of fall cleanup

As the leaves turn different colors and the weather becomes cooler, many American begin to engage in outdoor cleanup. Consider the number of Americans injured in yard work accidents every autumn and you may begin to suspect that "fall" is actually short for "pitfall." Fall, it seems, is the season for back injuries, tumbles from ladders and lawn mower accidents.

"Approximately 42 million people seek emergency room treatment for injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," says Brett Taylor, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. "Many of these injuries can happen while performing seemingly routine tasks, like autumn yard work."

The academy offers a few simple tips to avoid common autumn injuries while working around the yard:

* Use a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength. Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters.

* Vary your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often. When picking up leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist.

* Inspect ladders for loose screws, hinges or rungs. Clean off accumulated mud, dirt or liquids.

* Never use your hands or feet to clear debris from under a lawnmower. Use a stick or broom handle instead. Likewise, never touch the blades with your hands or feet, even if the engine is off. The blade can still move and cause serious injury.

For more lawnmower or ladder safety tips, visit the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon's Web site at www.orthoinfo.org.