Gardening is a great way to be active while enjoying the outdoors, beautifying your neighborhood, or growing some nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Even so, experts recommend that you take precautions to protect yourself from gardening hazards. A few tips:
Dress to protect. Wear sturdy gloves, shoes, and pants to prevent bug bites, cuts from gardening tools and equipment, and exposure to harmful chemicals. Wide-brimmed hats, long- sleeved shirts, sunglasses, and sunscreen will also protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Follow instructions. Use chemicals and gardening tools and equipment according to provided instructions and only for their intended purposes. Avoid distractions, especially while using gardening tools and equipment.
Know your limits. Take breaks often, and stay hydrated, especially if the weather is hot.
Use pesticides responsibly. Whether you use organic or synthetic pesticides, the centers for Disease control and Prevention advises you to use them with care and, in the case of synthetic chemicals, in conjunction with nonchemical solutions. if you decide to use synthetic pesticides, be mindful of warning labels. If you have children or pets, opt for chemical- free pesticides or pesticides with the lowest possible toxicity, and keep them stored out of their reach.
Get vaccinated. Gardeners are especially prone to tetanus infections, so make sure you get vaccinated. All adults should receive a tetanus vaccination every 10 years.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sunset magazine
This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.