2006-04-27 / News

Spring home cleaning the safe way

Spring finally is upon us, and with it comes sunshine, warmth, and an endless list of chores for many of us.

Cleaning, fix-it-up projects, painting, yard work, and gardening may be just a few things on your to-do list.

While many look forward to getting homes and lives ready for summer, thousands of injuries occur each year as a result of mishaps around the house. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a number of spring cleaning activities can be dangerous if safety measures are not taken.

"When spring cleaning, it is important to take your time and perform the activities with caution to reduce accidental injuries from occurring," said Dr. Richard F. Kyle, first vice president of the AAOS. "If you are experiencing pain when partaking in spring cleaning activities, it is important to stop and rest, and if pain continues, consult the proper physician."

Seniors may be at a greater risk due to underlying health problems so extra precaution is suggested.

With all this in mind, the AAOS has offered some guidelines for your spring-cleaning projects:

+ Stretch and perform proper warm-ups prior to starting cleanup projects around the home, such as painting or gardening.

+ Proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending should be part of any spring-cleaning project.

+ It is important to separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles.

+ Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up and don't try to lift any object by yourself if it is too heavy or an awkward shape.

+ When raking, don't twist your body. Instead, use your legs to shift your weight and -switch sides.

+ Instead of getting on your hands and knees to clean the floor, use a mop.

+ When vacuuming, push the vacuum in front of you and walk in a long line, then pull back the same way. Pushing and pulling a vacuum in short strokes can hurt your back.

+ Many spring-cleaning chores, such as cleaning gutters and trimming trees, involve the use of a ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven, and watch for soft, muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring.

+ Every spring before using a lawnmower have it serviced to make sure it is working properly. Never try to dislodge dirt or grass from the lawnmower blades with your hands while the machine is running. It is also important to wear shoes while mowing the lawn.

+ Read product labels for proper use and wear protective clothing and gloves when using chemicals

for gardening or cleaning. Store all chemicals at the appropriate temperature, which is usually indicated on the package.

+ Be sure to keep chemicals in a place that is out of reach of both children and pets.

For additional safety tips and injury prevention information on spring cleaning, raking, mowing the lawn, climbing ladders and more, visit the Prevent Injuries America! section of the Academy's Web site at www.orthoinfo.org or call the Academy's Public Service line at (800) 824-BONES.

(SPM Wire)

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