The Northwest gardening season is just beginning and many amateur gardeners will be eager to get out and get their hands dirty. Whether you are a beginner or have been gardening for years, safety protocol is important. The CDCs gardening safety tips can help to prevent a gardening accident this year.
Top gardening safety tips
Wear appropriate clothing and safety gear
- Wear sturdy shoes, long pants and gardening gloves to help reduce skin irritations and cuts
- If you are spraying chemicals or using motorized equipment, safety goggles are a must.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen to prevent sun burn. Also, stay well hydrated with water and/or Gatorade style drink and know your limits in the heat.
- If there are mosquitoes or ticks nearby use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into your socks. High rubber boots can also prevent a tick bite since ticks are usually on the ground.
Handle gardening tools/chemicals carefully
- Test gardening equipment to make sure that it is working properly before the season begins.
- Follow safety instructions for equipment and use of chemicals.
- Always sharpen tools carefully.
- Keep tools, chemicals and equipment away from children’s reach.
Listen to your body and take breaks as needed
- Take regular breaks for water and healthy foods.
- If you begin to feel overheated go inside or in a shaded area and consume water.
- If you become breathless, dizzy, nauseous, confused or develop a headache, rapid pulse or your muscles become sore take a break.
Note: People over the age of 65 and children under the age of four or people who are overweight and/or have a health condition should take special care to watch how they are feeling.
Tips for gardeners with special needs
- If you have arthritis in your hands purchase tools that are easy to grasp and sized appropriately.
- Avoid climbing ladders or operating machinery if you are taking medication that makes you drowsy.
- If you have been inactive, start out gardening for less than 20 minutes and gradually build up time and intensity.
Make sure you are up to date on your tetanus vaccination
Adults should get a tetanus vaccination every 10 years. Tetanus lives in the soil and can enter the body through a break in the skin. Sharp tools combined with digging in the dirt makes gardeners especially vulnerable to tetanus infections. Make sure your tetanus/diphtheria (Td) vaccination is up to date before the start of the season. If you believe that you may have been exposed to tetanus and your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago contact your physician about whether you need a booster shot.
Seek medical care if you are injured, experience chest and arm pain, dizziness, light-headedness or heat-related illness.
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