Before you pull out the ladder or rake to cross off another home maintenance chore, think about your safety first. Simple chores such as raking leaves or repairing a window lead to serious injuries every year.
In fact, more than 500,000 people get hurt from falling off a ladder every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thousands of people also hurt themselves using a rake.
It’s a good reminder to never underestimate the risk to getting injured while doing simple chores. Any chore can lead to a muscle strain or orthopaedic injury.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following fall cleaning safety tips to help reduce injury:
- Check the size of your rake. Make sure your rake is the right size for your height and strength.
- Pull weeds carefully. Use the proper yard tools to remove weeds. If you pull too hard on a weed, you can fall backward. Many people strain a muscle while pulling weeds.
- Keep equipment serviced. Before you fire up the leaf blower, make sure it’s been serviced.
- Inspect your ladder regularly. Do not use a ladder that has loose screws, hinges or rungs. Clean off any mud or liquids on the ladder.
- Watch ladder surfaces. Place your ladder on a firm, level surface. Always engage the ladder locks or braces before climbing. If you’re outside, make sure the ladder — when extended — will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or anything else.
- Remember the one-to-four rule. The bottom of your ladder should be one foot away from wall for every four feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the base of the ladder should be four feet from the wall.
- Keep an eye on the weather. Do not use a ladder outside if there is rain, wind, snow, ice or some other factor that can increase the risk of slipping and falling.
- Avoid over-reaching or leaning. If your bellybutton goes beyond the sides of the ladder, you can easily lose your balance and fall. Never stand at the top rung.
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any debris or greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled shoes, which become slippery.
- Get help if you need it. Be safe and ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you ascend, and always hold the side rails with both hands. Also, make sure that only one person climbs the ladder at a time. Hire a professional if you’re not familiar with using a ladder safely.
+ Read more about fall prevention by making safety-minded changes to your home.
+ Learn about the advanced techniques used in total joint replacement at Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists.