- Avoidance of prolonged repetitive motions – Repetitive motions (like those involved in raking, digging, etc.) can cause irritation and damage to tendons, nerves, and skin. To avoid such issues, make sure that you are varying your tasks by not doing any single activity/motion for more than 15 minutes. Incorporate some brief rests in there, too – that way you can make sure that no one muscle group is working too hard.
- Wear gloves – Wearing gloves that fit properly can help to protect your hands from chemicals (such as pesticides and fertilizers), bacteria in the soil, and blisters. If you’re looking for the most protection, opt for leather gloves – they’re typically a bit thicker and sturdier and can hold up better to thorns and what not. Plus, gloves will protect your fingernails, too.
- Right tools, right job – Many times, accidents occur because people are using the wrong tools for the job they’re trying to accomplish. Or, they’ll use their hands to rip/break/dig instead of a tool designed for that particular purpose. Seriously, make sure you’ve got the right equipment for what you’re planning to accomplish – we promise, things will go a lot smoother!
So, what should you do in the event of an injury? Well, first off, try to stay calm – regardless of whether the injured party is yourself or someone else, “freaking out” isn’t going to do anyone any good. If the injury is a laceration, know that minor cuts will often stop bleeding after applying direct pressure (with a clean cloth) – if, however, the bleeding isn’t controlled after 15 minutes of continuous, direct pressure, it’s time to head to the ER. If you think a bone may be broken or that something else serious has occurred – again, head to the ER. If the injury seems less urgent/emergent, a trip to your doctor is probably a good idea.
Happy (and safe!) gardening, everyone!