Sunscreen ... check
Wide-brimmed hat ... check
Sunglasses ... check
Long-sleeved shirt ... check
Long pants ... check
Gloves ... check
Water ... check
Tetanus booster ... what?
We all know that there are wonderful benefits to gardening, especially growing your own vegetables and herbs. But every year we need to review some of the safety tips to make sure you stay healthy while you’re out in your garden. The reason I know is because I’m currently nursing a case of poison ivy on my legs because ... I was wearing cropped pants!
Of course if you’re using power equipment, you should make sure it’s in good working condition and that you use safety goggles, sturdy shoes (preferably work boots), long pants and sleeves as well as hearing protection as needed. For hand tools such as pruners, be careful when sharpening them.
Wearing gloves will not only keep your hands clean, but help prevent cuts, abrasions and skin irritations. Along with long sleeves and long pants, gloves will help you avoid poison ivy, mosquito and bug bites. Add a hat, a good pair of sunglasses and sunscreen with a minimum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 and you’re protecting your skin against sun damage. If ticks are a concern, tuck your pants into your boots.
It’s easier than ever to look good while protecting yourself in the garden by wearing sun protective clothing. The higher the number of the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating on the clothing, the higher the degree of UV (Ultraviolet) protection the clothing offers. You can learn more about protective clothing online at rei.com/expertadvice/articles/sun+protection.html. While you’re on the REI web site, check out their line of mosquito repellent clothing.
If you choose to use chemical fertilizers in your garden, make sure to take the appropriate precautions. The instructions on most chemicals warn against using their products on a windy day, to wear gloves and to wash well after use. Although with the Square Foot Gardening method you’re not using chemicals, you should wear a dust mask when using vermiculite and peat moss—really when you’re using ANY gardening method and using things that create dust and a dust mask can help considerably when you’re mowing your lawn.
Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to. Make sure to drink plenty of water especially when working in the heat. Alcohol is not a good choice as it tends to dehydrate you, and drinking while using power equipment is just not a good idea. This also applies to medications that make you drowsy. Please take your cell phone or cordless phone outside with you and call for help at the first sign of trouble.
You may not have ever thought about this, but before each gardening season you should check to make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and, ultimately, threaten your life. Tetanus is commonly known as lockjaw."
Since we work with sharp tools, and play in the dirt, gardeners are at greater risk. The tetanus bacteria is found in the soil and enters in a cut or other break in the skin. Adults need to get a tetanus booster every ten years. Do you remember when your last one was? Look for Td, T/D/P, DT or Tdap on your shot record. If you have any doubt, or if you see that it’s been longer than 10 years since you’ve had a booster, see your medical professional right away.
So let’s keep safe while we’re trying to improve our health by growing our own vegetables.