Take Steps To Reduce Risk Of Injury During Poststorm Cleanup

Take Steps To Reduce Risk Of Injury During Poststorm Cleanup

Hopefully you’re reading this in air-conditioned comfort, power fully restored.

As if we South Floridians needed any reminding, the stifling post-Irma heat is not only unbearable, but can be downright deadly.

So it seems inconceivable that summer officially ends on Friday.

Yes — for the rest of the country, fall means raking leaves that trees have naturally shed; in Florida, this year it means corralling the foliage and debris left in Irma’s wake.

Considering that Friday is National Falls Awareness Day, and post-storm cleanup — with its inherent safety risks — will continue for a while, let’s talk about some of the precautions you and your loved ones can take to avoid injuries.

Ditch the flip-flops

Even under ideal circumstances, flip-flops are the least safe form of footwear. But now, wearing them outdoors exposes your feet to countless additional hazards.

Nails. Splintered wood. Jagged fragments of branches.

And that’s to say nothing of how the wind, tornadoes and projectiles might have affected your local topography.

What was once a perfectly level public walkway may now have a tiny crevice — one that you won’t notice until it has disrupted your balance. In proper shoes, you have a better chance of catching yourself before you turn an ankle or take a tumble.

Get the right gear

For those inexperienced in doing actual post-storm cleanup, you’ll want to protect body parts that you may not normally safeguard.

That means wearing a hat (or hardhat if you’re using a power saw), long sleeves, heavy work gloves, protective goggles and work boots (preferably steel-toed ones) if you have them.

Take frequent breaks to rehydrate

You don’t need us to tell you how hot it is out there — but dehydration can sneak up on you (especially if you’re wearing all of the proper gear).

Always have a full water container with you and drink 12 to 16 ounces for every 10 to 15 minutes you’re outside.

If you spend extended periods outside, replenish lost electrolytes with sport drinks.

And how will you know if you’re staying properly hydrated?

Monitor the color of your urine; it should always be clear.

Lift properly

Cleaning up — even if it’s just leaves and light debris — means frequent bending and lifting. Remind yourself to bend your knees and lift with your legs — but nothing too heavy. Experts recommend never trying to lift anything that weighs 50 pounds — but we recommend erring way on the side of caution. Leave the truly heaving lifting for municipal workers or hired landscapers.

Rotate your tasks

Different tasks require the use of different muscle groups. So, don’t spend too long doing any one task (raking, pruning, shoveling, etc.), lest you develop a repetitive stress injury. Experienced gardeners bring an egg-timer with them to remind them to switch from one task to the next. Trust us — your knees, wrists, shoulders, elbows and back will thank you.

Let the pros do the elevated work

Any cleanup that requires you to climb a ladder, tree, or otherwise be off the ground becomes exponentially more dangerous. There is no reason to take such risk. Better to spend the money and hire trained landscapers who have the equipment and experience to handle the work safely.

Victor DeFrisco Headshot
Phone: 561-951-3759
Dated: September 19th 2017
Views: 161
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