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Get your garden going safely

Now that the weather's better, are you itching to get outside and see how your garden grows? There's a lot to love about gardening: the peace and quiet; the exercise; and the fresh, nutritious produce you get to harvest in summer and fall.

And while gardening is generally safe, there are a few risks to keep in mind anytime you're working in a garden:

Cuts and infections. Digging in the dirt can sometimes cause cuts and scrapes, which may have the potential to get infected with tetanus (lockjaw) bacteria. A good pair of gloves will help guard against these injuries, as well as protect you from blisters and exposures to any garden chemicals you use. Speaking of tetanus, do you need a booster vaccine? Adults need one every 10 years. If you're not sure, check with your primary care provider.

Overuse injuries. Aches, pains and blisters can happen when you make the same motions (like shoveling, raking or pruning) over and over, especially if you aren't used to the activity. That means you're probably more vulnerable at the start of gardening season. To help prevent these issues, switch to a new task every 15 minutes. And take breaks.

Accidents. The right tools are essential for a great garden. But using them increases the risk of injuries to yourself or others. Be sure to keep sharp tools away from kids, and if the tools have safety locks, keep the locks on when not in use. Tools are also safer (and work easier) when you use them for their intended purpose. Before using power tools, take the time to read
the instructions.

Sunburns and skin damage. Don't forget to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays, which can raise your risk for skin cancer. Wear a wide-brimmed hat; a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt; long pants; and sunglasses when outside. And always apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Society for Surgery of the Hand; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Categories: Safety

Know before you grow

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Start gardening safely