Why the better weather means more DIY injuries
As the weather improves, the impulse to get to work increases. Dr David Foley highlights potential dangers.
1. Finger and hand injuries
Hedge clippers and other gardening tools can inflict a lot of accidental damage on unsuspecting hands.
Trimmers and other pruning tools have blades sharp enough to cut through twigs and branches. Anyone using these types of tools should be mindful of hand placement while trimming and consider wearing gloves to protect the skin from surface cuts and more serious wounds.
Anyone who has suffered a hand injury will be aware just how debilitating it can be and how all activities of daily living can be compromised.
The function of our hands is paramount, and even seemingly trivial accidents can cause long-term loss of dexterity.
The first thing you should do if you cut yourself is to check how deep it is.
A minor cut can be treated at home with cool water and a disinfectant.
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However, you should always get a deep cut checked over if it is bleeding heavily, has something stuck in it, you can see muscle or fat, was caused by something rusty or very dirty and feels numb.
Keep pressure on the wound and keep it elevated.
2. Mower cuts or burns
For those lucky enough to have a back garden or front lawn, there may be a sudden urge to tend to the grass as soon as the sun comes out in early spring.
Winter weather or lack of care during the off season can put strain on a mower, causing it to stall.
Flipping the mower over to address these concerns can unfortunately lead to many injuries. Addressing dull or jammed blades can often cause minor or serious cuts. A lawnmower's exhaust and engine can also reach very high temperatures while running, so be careful to give the mower time to cool before being tempted to fix any running issues, or else it may be the cause of a serious burn.
The moment you get a burn make sure you get cold water flowing over it - and keep it flowing. Seek medical advice if the burns are in the vicinity of the face or near the joints or if the burn is not healing.
3. Falls causing head injuries
Falls from ladders and injuries from falling objects can all contribute to head injuries. Helmets can be life-saving, but head injuries still cause a significant amount of illness and death every year. Loss of consciousness, vomiting, amnesia and decreased level of consciousness are all factors that can increase the risk in those who have suffered a head injury.
It is worth noting any form of knock to the head is considered a head injury. A mild injury - a small bump or bruise, but you're still alert and can communicate - can be treated at home with ice while keeping a close eye on the symptoms.
However, if you experience dizziness, concussion or vomiting you need to seek medical attention.
4. Lower back pain
Lifting heavy objects or working hunched over and on your knees in cramped conditions can put undue or unusual strain on the lumbar spine. This can result in localised back pain or sciatica. Over 80% of back pains will resolve in six to eight weeks and the pain can be modified with medication in the short-term.
People whose hobby is gardening often should take extra care and become "back aware".
5. Insect bites and stings
While insect bites and stings usually only cause minor irritation, some stings can be painful and could trigger a serious allergic reaction in which case you will need to seek medical advice.
Once bitten or stung you should locate the sting and remove it right away.
Scrape it away if possible and avoid tweezers as it can squeeze more venom out and cause more injury.
Dr David Foley is a consultant in emergency medicine and medical director of Affidea ExpressCare Clinics