Cleaning safety 101


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If you haven’t yet tackled your spring-cleaning chores (what are you waiting for?) and plan on speeding through the process just to get the damn thing over with, please slow down. Because even though spring cleaning seems like a fairly safe endeavor, there are a number of potential hidden dangers lurking behind your dusting, sprucing and shining.

“We all want a perfectly clean house with the snap of a finger, so we tend to rush through a numerous amount of burdensome tasks in a short period of time, and that’s where we put ourselves at risk for injuries,” said Lana Kang, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “Whether it’s a fall caused after making a wrong step on a ladder or straining a back muscle, it’s best to pace yourself, complete one task at a time, and take regular breaks.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported in 2010 that more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder, which people commonly use to get to those hard-to-reach spaces.

So before you reach for your duster, check out these safety tips from the AAOS:

• Avoid back injuries by using the proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending. Separate your feet, shoulder-width apart, keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles.
• Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up, and don’t try to lift heavy objects by yourself.
• Use a sturdy stepstool when reaching for out-of-reach areas.
• Place ladders on a firm, level, dry surface. Don’t lean too far to one side or too far overhead. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Always have a spotter nearby.
• Make sure extension cords are properly grounded, and do not drape them across spans of walkways.
• Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Don’t backward or mow in reverse unless necessary.
• Wear protective gear, including proper eyewear, footwear and thick, well-fitted gloves.
• Read product labels for proper use of chemicals, which should be out-of-reach of children and pets. Don’t place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance.
• Take breaks and drink water to prevent dehydration.
• Keep a cell phone nearby in case of an accident.