Surgeons' Group Offers Spring Cleaning Safety Tips

Spring cleaning, painting, and yard work are popular pursuits this time of year. Thousands of injuries occur each year from mishaps around the house, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org/home.asp), which is asking Americans to take proper safety precautions to reduce those incidents.

More than 530,000 ladder injuries, about 72,000 garden tool-related injuries, and 239,000 lawn mowing injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics in 2005, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says. “Many spring cleaning injuries occur when people rush or do not follow the proper safety precautions,” said Dr. Stephen Hurst, orthopaedic surgeon and a Fellow of the Academy. “Because most injuries are preventable, it is important to use the appropriate equipment for each project and take your time to minimize spring cleaning-related accidents.”

AAOS recommends these guidelines for spring projects and notes that proper lifting techniques "should be part of any spring cleaning project": Keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles as you lift with your leg muscles; don't try to lift any object by yourself if it is too heavy or an awkward shape; place ladders used for chores on a firm, level surface; over-reaching or leaning too far to one side when working on a ladder can make you lose your balance and fall--your belly button should not go beyond the sides of the ladder; when gardening, avoid prolonged repetitive motions and wear gloves to reduce blistering and protect the skin; read product labels for proper use and wear protective clothing and gloves when using chemicals for gardening or cleaning; take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration; if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care such as by calling 911.

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