For some people, yard work is a source of active entertainment. For others, it’s a chore. But whether you’re a landscape fanatic or a reluctant gardener, safety while working outside is hugely important.
Anything from dehydration to power tools gone awry can pose a threat. It’s important to take precautions and use safe practices to ensure your yard work is accident-free.
Physical Precautions for Yard Work
One thing that many people don’t consider is how physically tedious working outside can be. There are a lot of awkward movements that you might not do in your daily life, and those can weigh on a person’s body, no matter their age.
- Get Physically Ready – It’s crucial to “warm-up” before any strenuous activity. Stretching or walking around for 5-10 minutes can make a world of difference to prevent pulled muscles.
- Stay Hydrated – It’s vital to stay hydrated while working outside, especially in the summer months. Dehydration and heat exhaustion should be taken seriously and are genuine threats.
- Take Breaks – Remember to take breaks, and don’t overexert yourself. You don’t need to finish everything in one day. You can always return to your work at a later time.
- Dress Appropriately For the Task – Most yard work injuries are preventable if you dress for the occasion. Keep the following in mind:
- Wear long pants and sleeves to avoid contact with things like poison ivy and to provide an extra layer of protection from flying debris or hot equipment.
- Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.
- Don’t forget about gloves to enhance your grip and protect from blisters.
- Use eye and ear protection.
- Apply sunscreen and bug spray.
Equipment Safety with Yard Work
There are many yardwork gadgets that, if misused, could be a liability waiting to happen. Safe use of tools is essential.
- Gas Powered Tools – Don’t ever run engine-powered tools in an enclosed space. Starting up a lawnmower, chainsaw, or any other gas-powered tool in a garage or shed can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.
- Know Your Equipment – Always familiarize yourself with the user manuals for your tools and know how to properly start and quickly turn them off.
- Keep Away from Blades – Never reach underneath a mower to grab something out of the blades. Even if you’ve turned off the mower, blades could still be rotating, and you could be seriously hurt.
- Mow in the Right Direction – If using a riding mower, mow up and down hills and slopes to avoid tipping. Push mowers should be steered side to side on slopes, so if a fall or slip were to occur, the mower would fall away from you instead of on top.
- Know When to Hire a Professional – If you’re operating a chainsaw, consider consulting an arborist for anything larger than approximately 6 inches in diameter. Chainsaws can snag or break, and trees can fall improperly. If you do hire an expert, make sure they have insurance, so if an accident were to occur, you wouldn’t be held liable.
- Take Care of Debris – Most tools like lawnmowers, chainsaws, and even pressure washers can create a lot of flying debris. Sticks, rocks, and other small objects around your yard can easily become a projectile. Clean up as much potential debris from your yard as possible before you get started.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings – Make sure there are no children, pets, or other bystanders in your work area. If you hit a missed rock with your lawnmower and it goes flying, it can cause serious injury. Always be conscious of your surroundings and educate others on the dangers.
Education and precautionary steps will help ensure you do your yard work safely. But sometimes accidents happen. If an accident were to occur, your homeowner’s insurance policy could help. Policies vary from provider to provider, so yours may only cover injuries to yourself and your home, while others may additionally cover injuries to third parties and damage to your neighbor’s property.
If you are unsure what your coverage includes, contact your AAA Insurance Agent to find out. They can share what type of policy you have and make sure you have the protection you need.