5 Gardening Health and Safety Tips

Elizabethan_GardensSpring is the perfect time to start planting your garden. As the weather gets warmer and you spend more in your garden, keep these 5 health and safety tips in mind:

1.      Know Your Limits

Gardening is a great way to get some fresh air and much-needed sunshine, but it’s important to understand what your limits are. Gardening in the summer heat can put you at risk for heat stroke and dehydration.

  • If you plan on staying outdoors for most of the day, make sure that you drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks that contain large amounts of sugar and alcohol as they actually cause you to lose even more fluid. Stick to plain water to stay hydrated.
  • Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you are feeling overheated, dizzy or nauseous, take a break indoors. A rapid pulse and headache may also be signs of a heat-related illness.
  • People over the age of 65, children and those who are overweight are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.
  • Plan to do your gardening early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Peak heat hours are between 11AM and 3PM, so avoid gardening during this time if you can.
  • Wear a sunhat to protect your head from exposure to the sun and gardening boots.
  • Battle the heat by pouring some chilled water on a bandana and tying around your neck.

2.      Protect Yourself

Gardening exposes you to outdoor pests, chemicals, the sun’s rays and sharp equipment. Dressing for the part is an essential part of gardening safety.

  • Always wear gloves to prevent cuts, skin irritation and the risk of infection.
  • Use insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitos and ticks. Make sure that the repellent you use contains DEET. Your clothing can also protect you from these pests. Wear long sleeves, pants and socks. Rubber boots are also recommended.
  • Never wear shorts when using a weed eater. Always wear safety goggles, pants and sturdy shoes, some of the best weed eaters will come with protective guards but you should still protect yourself.
  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sun exposure.

3.      Take Your Time

Avoid taking shortcuts while gardening and take your time. If you are working with chemicals, take the time to read the instructions carefully. Do not force yourself to continue working if you feel tired or overworked. It’s okay to take breaks if you need to. You don’t have to get all of the work done in one day. Pace yourself by gardening several times per week instead of exhausting an entire day. Gardening should be a pleasurable and rewarding experience – not a chore.

4.      Protect Your Posture

Most gardening tasks require you to be hunched over with your hands and face close to the dirt. Bending over while standing will put a tremendous strain on your back. Kneeling is the best option. Invest in a waterproof kneeling pad that you can comfortably kneel on. Kneepads are another great option that allow you to be more mobile. If your gardening activities require you to stand, make sure that you use tools with long handles and padding that is easy to grip.

5.      Put Safety First

Gardening often requires the use of tools and chemicals. No matter whether the tools are powered or unpowered, serious injury is always a risk. Limit your distractions while using these tools and make sure that you are using chemicals properly.