Spring Cleaning Lands Many Americans in Hot Water

Doctor provides tips on how to avoid some pitfalls associated with the season

SUNDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- As Americans head toward attics, roofs and yards to freshen things up after the long winter, experts warn that spring cleaning can lead to a spring visit to the hospital.

In 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves on a stepladder, and more than 41,000 suffered injuries while gardening or using gardening equipment, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition, over 127,000 were injured while using a lawnmower.

"Spring cleaning can bring on many injuries for a variety of reasons. Specifically, people tend to do too much too soon," orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael A. Flippin, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a news release from the academy.

"Many common injuries -- including tendonitis, sprains, strains or breaks -- can be prevented with proper technique, like bending at the knees when lifting instead of from the back, or securing and stabilizing a ladder before climbing. These are simple precautions that are overlooked too often," he added.

For those ready to start their annual clean-up, the academy offers the following advice:

  • When lifting, separate your feet and bend at the knees. Lift with your leg muscles.
  • Avoid prolonged repetitive motions -- for example, doing the same thing over and over again while gardening -- by varying your activities and resting in between.
  • Wear protective gloves and clothing when gardening and cleaning.
  • Invest in a sturdy step stool instead of standing on a chair or couch when cleaning hard-to-reach areas.
  • Make sure a spotter is with you when you're on a ladder and don't lean over too far in either direction: your belly button should never go beyond the ladder's sides.
  • Kids under 12 years of age shouldn't use a lawnmower, and they shouldn't use a ride-on mower until they're 16. People of all ages should wear proper footwear when mowing the lawn.
  • Take breaks, drink water and keep a cell phone with you so you can call for help if you're injured.

More information

For more about ladder safety, visit the American Ladder Institute.

Randy Dotinga SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, April 28, 2011

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