We spend most of our time at home, so it’s where we feel most safe, and that’s why it’s where we’re most likely to get hurt. Even little things, like cuts and infections, can become a big deal. Consider this your practical reminder on safety — from the obvious through to unlikely injuries that can occur when doing stuff around the home.
And just in case you think you’re too careful to have accidents… they’re called accidents for a reason! No one’s planning on blowing out a back, poking their eye, or worse. Just have a read. You never know, it could save you a little grief one day.
1. Keep an eye on your eye
Eye infections are extremely common after house-cleaning or yard work. Always pay attention to your eyes. If they’re itchy or watery in the least after you’re done your tasks, grab some “No Tears”-type baby shampoo and give your eyes a good washing. Being someone prone to allergy-induced sties, a pharmacist taught me this trick and it’s served me well. I now recommend it as a perfect addition to every first aid kid.
2. Cover up
When discarding anything sharp, even if you’re just taking out some trash with broken glass in it, always wear a thicker jacket and a pair of jeans so it’s harder for anything to cut you.
3. Move mindfully
It’s easy to get on auto-pilot when you’re running around and cleaning the home. If you’re bending and reaching without thinking, you could be misfiring all kinds of muscles, and that can go horribly awry. Lift with your legs, not your back. Engage your core and flex your knees before you bend over.
Keep your shoulders down when you’re hoisting and lifting things, so you don’t get undue neck tension. And smile! These steps might help your back and legs avoid day-after grief. I speak from experience here, having once shredded a knee just by picking up recycling on the floor without bending first.
4. Be prepared
Keep a first aid kit and some disinfectant around, in case you should get cut. Infected cuts can very easily become cellulitis staph infections, which can get quite serious. Clean and dress any wound immediately and you should avoid this step. If you need to keep working and your wound is on your hand, make sure you wear gloves — better yet, put some latex gloves on under them. Which brings us to…
5. Ward off evil
Furthermore, never work in a garden with an open wound on your hands unless you’re in those latex gloves under gardening gloves. It sounds overwrought, but this can be a serious hazard. A friend of my aunt’s had a horrible months-long, life-threatening infection after ignoring a small cut she got on her hands while gardening.
I mean, you’re sticking your hands in dirt, where bacteria thrives. It should be obvious, but most people underplay the dangers and shrug it off.
6. Getting hitched the wrong way
Most people are iffy about taking off their expensive rings, wary they’ll lose them. I used to be, but then a family friend was doing yard work without gloves and slipped a bit by a metal fence that snagged his wedding ring as he fell. Now he has a lovely scar from where they had to reattach his finger. Had he been wearing work gloves, he would’ve been in great shape. Even bare hands might’ve just resulted in a minor cut. If you like pulling your work gloves off and on, be on the safe side and take your rings off.
7. Watch your head
It may seem like a pain to grab a chair or step ladder and grab things off top shelves, but it’s much more of a pain when crap comes crashing down on you — especially if you should forget about old, heavy objects you’ve tucked away. This nearly happened to me yesterday just when taking things off the top of my fridge, and I’m 5’7! The wrong object crashes down on you and you could topple and get a head injury. No one needs that, so use your step ladder and make the effort to be safe.
8. “In a minute” can be 59 seconds too late
As someone who spent 8 weeks on crutches because a co-worker didn’t pick up a fallen stapler right away, I’m tellin’ ya — don’t wait! I’ve learned my lesson, but even I sometimes forget to heed my own wisdom. Just the other night, I spilled oil for my pizza all over the floor while I was in the middle of something else.
First reaction? “I’ll get it in a minute.” But within a few seconds, oil was all under my shoe soles, and suddenly an image of me slipping and cracking my head open popped before my eyes. I stopped right then, kicked my shoes off, cleaned the floor up, not once but twice, and my shoes too. Then I sat down and ate pizza. Safety didn’t just save me, it saved my dinner!
Prevention is the best medicine
Remember, they’re not called “on purposes.” None of us want these things to happen. Stop for a moment and work consciously. I speak from experience on too many of these. I earned the nickname “Crash” for all the wrong reasons. With a little planning and caution, you can avoid the notoriety that comes from injuring yourself stupidly… like I have done oh-so-many times.