Spring Cleaning: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Embracing Spring Chores with Safety on the Mind
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Spring isn't just about flowers and rain showers, but it's also about decluttering our homes and embracing the good ole' tradition of spring cleaning.

Unfortunately, due to the labor intensive duties that go into many of our spring cleaning rituals, we run a high risk for injuries, especially if the proper safety precautions aren't taken.

AAOS Expert Advice:
"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."

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder.

Before creating your spring to-do list, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges everyone to make these spring cleaning safety tips a priority.

AAOS Safety Tips:
Use proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending to avoid back injuries:

>> 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; don't try to lift heavy objects by yourself.

>> Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture—such as a chair or the couch—when dusting high hard to reach areas.

>> Ladders used for chores—such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters and trimming trees—should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.

>> Use care with extension cords: be sure they are properly grounded. To avoid tripping or falling, do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways.

>> When working on a ladder, leaning too far to one side and reaching too far overhead can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Never climb a ladder without someone nearby who is able to spot you.

>> Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary—carefully look for others behind you when you do.

>> Wear protective gear such as proper eyewear, footwear and thick, well-fitted gloves that serve as a layer of protection to minimize cuts, scratches, and chafing, or injury from dangerous chemicals.

>> 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.

>> Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration.

>> Be sure to stretch your arms, back, shoulders, knees and hips before starting your cleaning.

>> Keep a cell phone within reach in case of accident or injury.