Autumn Yard Work Safety

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Now that fall is officially here, soon there will be piles of leaves in my yard and on my roof. That means it's time to break out the rakes and leaf blower. But, did you know that, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 617,000 people were injured raking leaves, cleaning gutters and going other yard work in 2008? Before you start your autumn outdoor clean up, make sure that you're protecting yourself with these simple preventative measures from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Before doing any heavy yard work, warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise.
  • Use a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength.
  • Wear gloves or use a rake with padded handles to prevent blisters.
  • Keep your vision free of impediment, such as hats or scarves and be aware of large rocks, low branches, tree stumps or uneven surfaces.
  • Vary your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often, and when picking up leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Wear shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles because wet leaves can be slippery.
  • Don't overfill leaf bags, especially if the leaves are wet.
  • Never throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side. This twisting motion can put undue stress on your back.

photo: g. doyle/getty images

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