Now that spring has finally sprung, we’re all spending more time out in the garden. It’s a great place to be when the weather is nice, and most of us could use the exercise after a winter indoors, but it pays to bear in mind some healthy and safety aspects if you want to avoid injuring yourself. It won’t take long, I’m just going to share with you some of the advice that I included in The Allotment Pocket Bible.
According to ROSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), around 300,000 people go to hospital every year after being injured in the garden. Of those, 110,000 are children, and 87,000 are injured while actively gardening, or doing garden DIY. With a little planning, and the right equipment, you can greatly reduce the risk of an accident.
There are some benefits to getting your hands dirty, and some gardening jobs are tricky to do without bare hands, but a good pair of gardening gloves will protect your hands from thorns and prickles, plant saps that might react badly with your skin and anything nasty lurking in the compost heap.
One of the possible nasties in the compost heap is fungal spores – compost is, by its very nature, a breeding ground for fungi. They’re vital to the rotting process and usually harmless, but dry compost can also send up a lot of dust. You could damp your compost down before digging it out, or wear a mask. Stand upwind of the heap, so nothing blows into your face.
If you’re using power tools like strimmers (weed wackers) or wood chippers, remember to wear protective goggles.
It’s tempting to nip out into the garden in sandals or flip-flops in summer, but if you’re digging then you need to wear sturdy boots to protect your toes. A new allotment could also be harbouring unpleasant surprises (unexpected holes, clumps of roots or half-buried trash). Proper footwear will help to prevent slips and falls on muddy ground or slippery paths.
Cold and stony ground is hard on the knees. A traditional kneeling pad, or knee pads to strap on over your clothes, will protect both your knees and your trousers!
- Cover any open wounds before you start gardening, and make sure you wash your hands when you’re finished.
- Know which plants in your garden are potentially poisonous or harmful.
- Ensure children can’t fall into any ponds, and that wildlife (and pets) can escape if they do.
- Store garden chemicals (even organic ones) properly and out of the reach of children. Follow the instructions when using them.
- Store tools properly. Stepping on a rake is only funny in cartoons. A tidy hose lasts longer, and won’t be a trip hazard.
- Use a cut-out device with power tools.
- Be careful with BBQs and bonfires.
- Consider wearing long sleeves and trousers even in summer, they’re a great barrier against scratches, bites and stinging sap.
What’s your top tip for staying safe in the garden?