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Monday, May 20, 2024

Ask the IU Health Expert: Spring cleaning? Think safety first

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As the weather warms, many Hoosiers are cleaning out their homes and rolling out the grill, but there are important safety reminders when it comes to spring cleaning safety. Dr. Jamie Coleman, trauma surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital, reviews what readers need to keep in mind when they are cleaning, so they do not end up in an emergency room this spring.


What are top hazards around the home to remember during spring cleaning?

Surprisingly, many activities associated with spring cleaning can lead to injuries. These include cleaning out the gutters, washing windows, indoor or outdoor painting projects, firing up the grill for the first time and really any type of yard work. Even cleaning products themselves can be hazardous for you if they are not used with proper ventilation. First, if you are planning any project that needs a ladder, ask your doctor if you should be on a ladder. There are certain medical conditions that might cause your doctor to recommend you not participate in an activity. Secondly, practice ladder safety: make sure the ladder is in good working condition and that someone is with you to help steady the ladder or assist you, in case of a fall. Your gas grill, which has spent the winter outside in the elements, should also be thoroughly examined for leaks prior to use, and all grills should be used more than 3 feet away from any structure, including your house. 


What type of injuries do you typically see in the ER related to spring cleaning activities?

One of the most common injuries we see is falls — falls from ladders, decks, roofs, etc. We also see injuries from lawn mowers — not only to the people operating the mowers themselves, but, unfortunately, also injuries to children, who are hit either by debris or the lawnmower itself.


What are some key tips for staying safe?

My key tips for staying safe are: ask first, check second. Ask your doctor if you should be participating in a specific type of spring cleaning activity. Check to make sure all equipment is in good working condition, that you are wearing appropriate clothing and eye protection, and that all safety precautions are being observed, including having a friend or family member present to help if needed.


What should you do if you or a loved one is injured?

In case someone is injured, first get help and call 911. Just as I would recommend everyone in the community should know basic first aid, including CPR, I also believe everyone should know how to place a tourniquet for extreme injuries when you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive.


Are there any injury prevention resources for families? 

Actually, IU Health trauma doctors offer injury prevention programs to keep families safe. We offer a wide range of programs that are available at community events, schools and at the hospital. These programs, available for children, teens, parents and senior adults, focus on creating a safe environment and making better decisions about safety.

To learn more, visit iuhealth.org/trauma/injury-prevention.

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