Rakes and Pains (Dealing safely with autumn)

It’s that time of year again, the leaves change and begin to fall from the trees. We also fall back with our clocks this weekend Nov 6th turning them back an hour. This is a great time of year, but there are safety hazards too.

Leaf Raking requires a number of different activities, including twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching, that utilize several different muscle groups. Improper use of lawn tools along with the potential for tool-related accidents further compounds the risk of injury to the bones and muscles. You can ease the strain and pain of raking — fall’s most taxing task by taking the following precautions to minimize your risk of sustaining an injury:

  1. Avoid twisting your body while raking. Use your legs to shift your weight rather than twisting your back. Throwing leaves over the shoulder or to the side while raking involves twisting movements that can overly strain the muscles in the back.
  2. Use a properly-sized rake for your height and strength.
  3. Wear gloves to help prevent blisters on the hands.
  4. Bend at the knees, rather than the waist, to pick up items.
  5. Do some form of light exercise for ten minutes to warm up the muscles prior to raking.
  6. Try to vary your movements as much as you can to avoid overuse of muscle groups.
  7. Wear shoes with skid-resistant soles to minimize the risk of falling. Sturdy shoes can also reduce the risk of injuries to your feet.
  8. Don’t overdo. Raking is an aerobic activity – you may need to take frequent breaks or slow your pace if you are an infrequent exerciser. (It’s better to live with the leaves tomorrow than with a sore back!)
  9. As with any form of exercise, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration.
  10. When you’re done, gentle muscle stretching can help relieve tension in the muscles. A hot bath can relax muscles.
  11. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection when operating a leaf blower. Keep everyone clear of the air stream and the blown materials, which can cause potential injuries

As we begin our shift from the warm summer months to the cold winter months, we wish to remind you of a few other autumn safety considerations.

Give Space Heaters Space: Space heaters need space, too. As the weather gets cooler, space heaters come out of their summer hiding places. Remember to leave at least three feet of space around your heater. Unplug it when it’s not being used.

Test your CO Detector: During cold weather, your furnace will be running and your windows will be closed. Test the carbon monoxide detector near your home’s bedrooms. (FYI these detectors are required under Illinois law even in private homes.)

Never Heat with an Oven: On chilly autumn mornings, avoid the temptation to warm the kitchen with a gas range or an open oven door. The unvented products of combustion can quickly build to toxic levels.

Replace Expired Fire Extinguishers: Make sure that the fire extinguisher in your home still good. If it has expired or discharged, be sure to replace it promptly.

Test Your Local Smoke Detectors: If it needs a new battery, then replace it. If the detector still does not function, replace the detector.

Wear Gloves While Doing Yard Work: It is the season for cleaning up. To help avoid blisters and other injuries, be sure to wear gloves while doing yard work.

Use Your Legs to Lift Heavy Items: Whether you are putting things away for storage, or carrying garbage and yard waste to the curb, be sure to use your legs to avoid back injuries.


Today’s Blog Post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau