Nothing gets people up, out and moving like a dose of warmer weather after a long, cold winter.
You’ve been closed up for months in a weather-induced sedentary state. But then the sun starts to shine longer, the days get warmer and you suddenly get a springtime injection of energy and enthusiasm you haven’t seen in months. Unfortunately, sometimes our zeal for getting active and enjoying the fresh air creates an increased risk of bodily harm because spending a Saturday hunched over your garden seems like a great idea until that night when your back hurts so bad you can’t stand up straight.
Whether it’s sore muscles from a day spent cleaning out the garage, contracting poison ivy while working in the garden or taking a spill from your newly dusted-off running shoes, springtime definitely can pack a punch to your body.
By taking a few small precautions, it doesn’t have to be such a precarious time of year.
One thing I caution people about this time of year is sunburn. We’ve been inside and covered up all winter, so we finally get to spend some time outside, but because it isn’t too hot, we don’t think to take precautions against sunburn.
This time of year people tend to burn in places they wouldn’t expect like the small of your back from bending over, or the back of your neck from mowing the yard. Be mindful of the fact that you will burn easily this time of year and apply sunscreen daily as part of your morning routine. You need it on your face, neck and arms.
Hazardous yard work
Getting out this time of year to get your yard in shape is what I consider hazard number two. I can’t tell you how important it is to read and follow the directions with fertilizers and weed killers and other lawn and garden chemicals. People can get skin, eye or inhalation injuries which can cause immediate problems such as headache or nausea. On a breezy day, you have to be extra careful about inhaling it and getting inadvertent exposure. These products are designed to kill living cells in organisms but can have an adverse affect on us, too. Some are associated with long-term nervous system problems.
Protect your eyes
When it’s time to cut the grass, two things people often overlook are eye and
ear protection. There are a lot of loud machines coming out of the garage and hearing damage is cumulative, so be sure to protect your ears. Then there’s the trimming of branches and cutting back bushes, which can very easily cause an accidental abrasion or perforating injury to the eye. It happens all the time and we are constantly seeing people with scratches to their eye because they didn’t wear protective glasses.
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
Another big springtime culprit is your favorite: poison ivy. The best thing you can do is know what it looks like and prevent yourself from getting into it. Just remember the rhyme; “leaves of three, let it be.” The resin from the plant can stay on your skin and you can spread it on yourself – but not to another person.
A few additional things to watch out for are garden tools, furry pets that might have rolled in it or even the smoke from someone burning poison ivy. You can get the resin on your skin from all of those things without realizing it.
If you do suspect you have come in contact with poison ivy, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water within 10 minutes. If it’s been longer than that, you will need to find special cleaners with urushiol in them. That is a chemical that will remove the resin from your skin. For relief of poison-ivy induced itching, I recommend oatmeal baths, ice packs and calamine lotion. Antibiotic creams are not a good idea, contrary to popular belief, because poison ivy isn’t an infection.
Bug bites and stings
And while we are talking about itching, let’s not forget about bug bites and stings. I recommend washing promptly with soap and cool water and elevating the affected part, if possible. Ice it if it swells. Only attempt to remove a visible stinger with sterilized tweezers, otherwise you are apt to irritate and infect the area. For ticks, do not try to burn it or use alcohol, because those things will tend to make the tick imbed itself more deeply. Gently grasp the body and try to slowly remove the entire thing.
Don’t overwork yourself
For those of you who haven’t been doing much physical activity and are about to get out and start bending, lugging, twisting and lifting things just use caution. Use your knees when lifting, don’t strain your back. If you are going to be kneeling, kneel on something padded. If you have overdone it in the yard, use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or so for the rest of the day. Then do some nice, gentle stretches the next morning. Those things will really help minor soreness.Share this Article