5 gardening hazards you should watch out for

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Five health and safety hazards when gardening:

Back problems

  1. Gardening can strain your back or damage your spine. This happens when you:
    • spend long hours bent over tilling the soil
    • carry heavy gardening materials
  2. To prevent back problems:
    • Use a portable garden or kneeling stool –protect your spine, knees and joints when you’re working close to the ground.
    • Get a wheelbarrow – use this to move heavy things around the garden. Ask for help when loading heavy things. Divide it into smaller, lighter loads. Bend your knees when lifting a load.
    • Take breaks – don’t work continuously. You will have muscle and back pain later on. Get up and stretch every 30-40 minutes. Drink water, stay in the shade and rest.
    • Wear proper shoes – wear shoes that have traction. They should be secure on your feet and have cushioning and arch support. Don’t wear sandals or go barefoot. You can slip and fall. This can injure your back.

Sun burn and heat exhaustion

  1. Too much sun exposure is bad for your skin. Cover the back of your neck and your face.
  2. The heat can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion.
    • Use sunscreen – put this on before gardening. SPF 30+ is recommended. Re-apply every two hours.
    • Get adequate cover – put on a hat, long sleeved shirt and shades.
    • Stay in the shade – take a break under the shade. Use an umbrella when the sun is strong.
    • Stay hydrated – drink lots of water. Don’t drink alcohol, coffee or other drinks with caffeine. These take away water from the body. They can cause dehydration.

Insect bites

  1. Avoid ticks. They can carry infections such as Lyme disease.
  2. Use insect repellent. Cover your skin.
  3. Tuck your pants into your socks. Wear a hat.
  4. Check yourself before going inside the house.
  5. Read Tick season in Manitoba: How to protect yourself from bites for more tips.

Poisonous chemicals

  1. Ask an expert at your local gardening centre about pesticides and fertilizers.
  2. Use organic mulches and fertilizers.
  3. Follow instructions and warning labels on gardening products.
  4. Keep pets and children away from poisonous materials.

Accidental cuts and scrapes

  1. Be careful when using sharp gardening tools.
  2. Wear thick gloves to protect your hands and arms. Thorny plants, rocks and other soil debris can scratch you.
  3. Get a tetanus vaccine. It should be updated every 10 years.

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