Spring cleaning is a great way to spruce up curb appeal and to get your home in tip-top shape for Summer, but some projects come are riskier than others. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder.
Many Spring cleaning projects are labor intensive. They require homeowners to step outside of comfort zones and onto ladders and roofs.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recently released some expert advice on what to do and not to do when performing maintenance on your home.
"We all want a perfectly clean house with the snap of a finger, so we tend to rush through a numerous amount of burdensome tasks in a short period of time, and that's where we put ourselves at risk for injuries," said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Lana Kang, MD. "Whether it's a fall caused after making a wrong step on a ladder or straining a back muscle, it's best to pace yourself, complete one task at a time, and take regular breaks."
Here are 10 steps that all homeowners should take to help avoid injury.
1. In order to avoid back injuries be sure to properly lift and carry heavy objects. How does one do this? The AAOS says to "separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles. Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up." Get help lifting heavy objects!
2. If you are dusting hard to reach spots use a step stool. Don't dangle your body off of counters or flimsy furniture!
3. When you use a ladder, be sure to place it on a level surface. Do not lean or reach for objects. Take the time to get down and move the ladder to where you need it.
4. Many tasks will involve using an extension cord. You should inspect all cords prior to their use. Look for gnawed or cut wires. To prevent trips and falls keep cords away from doorways and walkways!
5. If you are working with chemicals, sharp objects, debris, or branches then consider wearing protective gear. This can include such things as protective eyewear, long sleeves, and sturdy shoes. Leave the flip-flops for the beach!
6. The AAOS says, "Read product labels for proper use of chemicals used for cleaning. Store all chemicals in places indicated on the package. This should be out-of-reach of both children and pets. Never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance."
7. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It can be hot and sweaty work cleaning gutters, trimming trees, and replacing shingles. Take frequent breaks and keep water handy. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. That means you're already dehydrated!
8. Have a cell phone on your person or within reach so you can call for help. Better yet, have another family member present while you are working.
9. When using a mower, use one that has certain safety features. You want one that stops mowing when the handle is released. Never mow when children or pets are in the area. Never disable safety features.
10. Finally, start any intensive project with a good stretching session. Whether you think so or not, these tasks are a workout and your body needs a little time to prep to avoid strains.