The warm weather makes us want to take care of our environment. Whatever your outdoor projects are, think safety!
For many people, there's plenty of outdoor work to do when spring comes. Renovations, yard work, rainwater gutter maintenance, spring cleaning, window washing, gardening, pool opening, etc.—we get busy to make our environment pleasant for an unforgettable summer!
While you are busy doing all kinds of tasks, you may not be aware of certain dangers. Becoming aware of them can prevent many unpleasant surprises. Adopting effective preventive measures will allow you to better enjoy the fruits of your labour as well as to feel a sense of pride and satisfaction for a job well done.
Too much sun and dehydration
When it comes to outdoor work, your best friend, the sun, also turns out to be your worst enemy. While sunrays keep you warm, they can also damage your skin if you haven't thought to protect it. A sunburn is a classic for outdoor workers. It's easy to forget sun protection when one is focused on a task!
Don't forget to always apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, at least 20 minutes before any sun exposure. Don't forget to apply it to your face. Reapply sunscreen every two hours—more frequently if you are sweating abundantly. Wear a hat or cap and sunglasses for additional protection. If possible, work in the shade (e.g. in the garage with the door open). Your pharmacist can provide information concerning sun protection measures.
Another substantial threat is dehydration, which is more common in summer. The sun, high temperature, physical exertion, and excessive sweating can all contribute to it. Drink plenty of water while you work and avoid drinks that can make the problem worse (e.g. alcohol, coffee, tea, very sweet drinks). Take frequent breaks, ideally in the shade.
These measures will also enable you to decrease the risk of heatstroke, a potentially serious condition related to heat and dehydration.
Posture and movement
Your back, joints and muscles work hard during periods of intense physical activity. A bad posture, a false movement, a heavy object to be lifted—and the limits of their capacities have been exceeded. Pain, muscle cramps and muscle soreness are then the order of the day! Listen to your body and stop all activity at the onset of any warning sign. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Here is some advice along these lines:
- Avoid working in a crouched position without support, on the tips of the toes or at arm's length.
- Do not lift objects that are too heavy.
- Do not work in a static position for long periods of time. Stretch and move a little at regular intervals
- If you must bend over, do so by bending your knees, not your back.
- If you kneel while you work, use knee pads.
If you experience pain or other symptoms, contact your pharmacist for advice.
Your hands, hardworking allies!
When you work outside, your hands are constantly busy. These unremitting workers need adequate care to continue to be at your service. Excessive dryness, redness, chafed and cracked skin, and blisters are possible signs of a lack of concern, care or precaution.
Excessive handwashing, contact with irritants (earth, plants, chemicals, etc.) and repeated use of tools are examples of threats to the skin's integrity. The use of gloves is probably the simplest and most effective solution to avoid this unpleasantness.
When washing your hands after a day's work, use lukewarm water et mild soap (heavily perfumed or irritating soaps can worsen skin problems). After having dried your hands, apply a moisturizer; repeat application several times a day if necessary.
If you notice a wound, make sure to clean it well and cover it with a dressing to prevent infection and promote healing.
Lastly, here are some additional tips:
- Apply insect repellent before going to work outdoors to protect against mosquito bites and ticks.
- Wear a hard hat to protect your head if the situation warrants it.
- If you undertake an unfamiliar task, make sure to benefit from expert advice, so you can work risk-free.
Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for additional information on the ways to work outdoors safely.