Lockdown means we are all staying at home. As a result this year is seeing an increase of people taking up gardening. It is only natural to want to make the most of and enjoy any outside space that you have and this article is not to discourage any budding gardeners. It is merely to outline the dangers that are present and draw attention to ways that you can minimise the risks and reduce the chances of injury to yourself and others.
Protect your skin
The weather over the last two months has mostly been sunny. As we head into the summer and the temperature begins to increase it is even more important to remember to protect your skin whilst out in the garden.
- Use sunscreen – (preferably SPF 30+) put some on before going outside. If you are working hard in the garden you will sweat out the lotion so it is important to re-apply every two hours.
- get adequate cover – Wear a hat, a long sleeved shirt and shades if you will be in the garden for an extended period.
- stay in the shade – Use a parasol on days when the sun is really hot and shorten your gardening time.
- stay hydrated. Drink lots of water or other cold beverages but stay away from alcohol and caffeine. These drinks are diuretic and can cause dehydration.
More on Sunburn and Heatstroke
Look after your back
Gardening is a good form of exercise and will give all major muscle groups a good workout. It is a great physical workout surrounded by nature and fresh air which also can benefit your mental health. As with any form of exercise it is important to not overdo it. Hours bent over raking soil or carrying heavy bags of compost and other gardening materials can strain your back or cause damage to your spine. It is advisable to use a kneeling stool when working close to the ground as this will help protect your spine and your joints.
Remember to bend your knees before lifting anything heavy and use a wheelbarrow to move things rather than carrying them.
Make sure you take plenty of breaks to give your muscles chance to recover and drink plenty of water.
Prevent accidental poisoning or injuries to yourself or others by carefully following manufacturer’s instructions when using weed killers, adhesives and solvents. Never transfer to alternative containers that could confuse and lead to poisonings. Avoid poisoning and chemical burns by storing chemicals for use in garage or garden safely out of sight and out of reach of children, preferably in a secure cabinet.
Call NHS 111
Getting the children out and enjoying the garden is one of the joys of summer but there are lots of hazards and dangers for children from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones from falling out of a tree. You can’t protect them from everything but by supervising them you can reduce the risks.
Pay particular attention to children near to water. From paddling pools to garden ponds and water features, small children should not be left unsupervised.
Protect yourself from electrocution by always using a residual current device (RCD) when operating electrically powered garden tools and mowers. An RCD is a device that quickly breaks an electrical circuit to prevent serious harm from an ongoing electric shock.
Take Care with Fires
One of the obvious ways to enjoy your garden in the nice weather is to light up the BBQ. Having a BBQ should be fun and should not end in injury of someone being burnt or scalded. By taking the time to run through a few precautions you can ensure the safety of your family.
- When choosing a barbecue, stability is essential – ensure the one you choose is strong and sturdy
- Check your barbecue is in good condition (particularly if you have not used it for some time) and look for loose or damaged parts that may need adjustment or repair
- Consider the location – level ground, away from fences, sheds and overhanging trees, which have been known to catch fire
- Never light a barbecue in an enclosed space
- Prepare the barbecue early to ensure it is at the right temperature by the time you want to cook
- Particular care should be taken in hot, dry weather to reduce the risk of starting a forest or grass fire
- Never pour petrol or other accelerants on to a barbecue. Some of the most serious barbecue-related accidents happen when people do this and the barbecue ‘explodes’ in their face
- Use long-handled tools
- Be careful of steam when opening foil parcels
- Remember that the metal parts of a barbecue can become hot – don’t try to move it until it has cooled down
- Don’t leave children unsupervised near a barbecue
- Make sure the barbecue is fully extinguished before you leave it
- Take care when getting rid of a disposable barbecue, or barbecue coals – ensure they have cooled down before placing them in a bin.
Equal care should also be taken with fire-pits and bonfires as these also pose potential dangers for burns and injury.
Take care on ladders
Avoid injury from falls by always checking a ladders condition before use and using at a safe angle – don’t take unnecessary risks. Falling off a ladder can have serious consequences.
When working in the garden, whenever possible you should wear gloves. Gloves will protect you when handling soil, compost, toadstools and potentially harmful plants, fertilisers or pesticides and reduce the risks of getting Legionella, Tetanus or Sepsis. https://pybhealth.com/common-illnesses/sepsis.html
Harmful diseases you can pick up in the garden:
- Legionnaires disease – can be caught from stagnant water or water droplets in warm conditions
- Bioaerosols are micro-organisms present in compost heaps that can be harmful if breathed in
- Tetanus – a bacterial infection that can enter through soiled cuts or wounds made by plant thorns
- Weil’s disease and salmonella can be transmitted by compost heaps or water containing rat urine.