Undeniably, spending time outside in the garden is good for you – for the physical activity, mental health, and the exposure you get to the sun for increasing your Vitamin D levels. But make no mistake about it, there are an incredible array of hazards that lurk in the garden, and you need to be prepared to deal with them should an accident or incident occur.
According to Health Grove, American households were involved in almost 75,000 accidents involving garden tools alone – and that excludes lawn mowers. And when you bear in mind the other surprising hazards that are in your garden at any time of year, it means that you should – like all good boy scouts and girl guides – be prepared.
With this in mind, here are some of the protections and safety considerations you need to make for your garden. We’re going to cover a lot of ground here, so let’s start off with some of the most obvious.
Protection from the sun
Most gardeners are sensible enough to apply sunscreen when working in the yard on a hot summer’s day. But not everyone uses enough, or strong enough, product. High UV protection is vital, and never forget to apply it to the ears and lips. Few people bother using sunscreen to these areas, which are both common places for skin cancers to start forming. And be wary of thinking a sun shade or garden umbrella is going to help protect you. While it will limit the amount of UV coming through, the rays can still get to you from reflective surfaces, and diffused UVs can be just as dangerous as those you get when sitting in the
sun directly. So, your protection should include sunscreen, a garden hat, and a time limit spent out there during peak, midday hours.
Protection from noise
Electric or petrol-driven mowers and garden tools can be exceptionally noisy, and if you are using them all the time, you could be leaving yourself open to a lot of ear damage and hearing problems later on in life. It’s vital that you limit your exposure to loud noise as much as possible if you don’t want to have problems with your hearing, so make sure you always wear protective earplugs, muffs, or canal caps. At the same time, you need to keep your wits about you when wearing this kind of protective gear. You won’t know who will be creeping up behind you and may not hear warning shouts from family members or neighbors. So, if you do plug up your ears, make sure you are alert as possible, and never operate dangerous garden tools when under the influence of alcohol or strong medications.
Protection from pests
Many different species cohabit with you in your garden. Some are good for keeping pests away, while others can be dangerous. Parasitic insects like ticks and fleas in your garden could end up giving you Lyme disease, which can be very nasty indeed. Make sure you check your body all over – and your kids – after a session in the garden to ensure you are parasite free. Spider bites are another common problem in gardens. Most aren’t dangerous and will be a little sore if anything, and you can use essential oils for spider bites to help ease the pain. But be wary of the most dangerous species in your region, and always check any area of the garden you are working on first to ensure you aren’t disturbing a nest or a web of a venomous spider. Other pests can cause you problems, too. Wasp and other flying insect nests can crop up in the most surprising places, and if disturbed can cause you a lot of harm. Keep a good supply of soap and cold press packs to reduce the pain and swelling – and call the emergency services in the event of an allergic reaction.
Protection from infection
The smallest cut on your finger could cause you long-term ill health if you are unlucky. You should always have a good stock of sticking plasters and bandages, as working in the garden with an open wound – no matter how small – could even be fatal. How? Well, many soil-borne diseases exist, and there are lots of nasty bacterias that love the garden environment – especially around water. You could end up with something as severe as Legionnaire’s Disease if you get the wrong kind of infection, so always use plasters and gardening gloves if you have wounds of any kind. And, of course, if you cut or scratch yourself in the garden, always ensure you clean the wound thoroughly straight away, using antiseptic cream or lotions if necessary.
Protection against eye injuries
When you are out in the garden working, there is likely to be a lot of debris flying around – and if it hits you in the eye, it could end up blinding you or one of the members of your family. Loose clippings, stones, thick pieces of mud, small sticks – when any of these shoot up into your face at high speed they can create a serious amount of damage. With this in mind, you should always use protective goggles, and you should also ask anyone else who is in the garden with you to do the same. Another thing to watch out for that could cause you serious eye injuries are the stakes and canes that you often use to help your young plants grow properly. It’s easy to forget where you have put them, and they can be difficult to spot – many eye injuries are caused in the garden by people bending over and ending up with a bamboo stick in the face. The solution to this is pretty simple – make sure it is visible to all and sundry that a stick, cane, or rod is sticking out of the ground. Either stick something brightly covered on top or even use an empty, plastic flowerpot.
Protection for your kids
Kids love spending time in the garden and will be out there at every opportunity. The trouble is that you can’t keep your eyes on them for every second of the day, particularly if you are trying to get some gardening done. So, make sure that everything dangerous is out of harm’s way, or has the necessary protection against inquisitive kids. Your garden pond or water feature is the perfect example – it will only take a few seconds for them to end up falling in and, potentially, drowning. Make sure you have grates covering your pond when your little ones are too young to understand the danger. Keep tools locked up in a shed, too, and only take out what you are using at that particular moment. You never want to experience the potential horrors of your child picking up a chainsaw that you have cast aside for a moment, as an example.
Protection against disease
You might be perfectly happy growing your own vegetables and fruits organically, safe in the knowledge they are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. But you should always make sure that no one eats anything from the garden without washing it thoroughly first. Berries, fruits, and veggies could all have come into contact with things like pet or bird feces and could be a carrier of nasty diseases like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.
As you can see, there are plenty of significant dangers in every garden – so it’s important to have the equipment, medication, and forward planning necessary to deal with any accidents or worrying incidents immediately. Stay safe, gardening folks!