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Gardening on the West Coast

...Ten Tips for Garden Safety
by Val Adolph
by Val Adolph

email: vadolph@gmail.com

Val Adolph is a humorist and garden writer who tries not to write about 'how to design gardens and grow plants'. This means looking at the lighter side of both, but also looking at plant history - who discovered them and how people of other times and places used them. She invites you to visit her new blog http://www.godwottery.blogspot.com as well as her website at http://www.valadolph.com


November 12, 2006

I was about 12 years old – O.K., old enough to know better – and a friend and I were asked to go down the garden to dig a few potatoes for dinner. Maybe we were fooling around just a little bit – I seem to remember a lot of giggling. The next thing I remember is me sitting in the potato patch with one tine of the garden fork sticking firmly into my lower leg. End of giggling. I can still remember the quaver in my friend’s voice as she very quietly asked, “Shall I pull it out?”

Gardening is generally regarded as a sedate and safe occupation. Parents are pleased to see their children playing happily in the garden. Busy people are happy to know that their 85 year old grandma is out of harm’s way, puttering in her garden all afternoon. What could be safer than that?

In truth a lot of activities could be safer. Take a few minutes to consider the safety of your own garden (as well as those of elderly relatives).

  1. Put all your tools away when you finish your garden tasks. Never, not even to answer a quick phone call, leave rakes lying out on the lawn. It only takes a child a moment of inattention to run across and accidentally step on the rusty tines.

  2. If you’re moving to a new house check for hidden hazards – nails, broken glass and who-knows-what junk left around by builders or the previous occupants.

  3. Store any chemicals, especially herbicides and insecticides, where children and pets can’t reach them. Make sure all the containers are labeled and never leave them outside or on a potting bench.

  4. Wear proper shoes or boots when you’re operating power equipment. Ear and eye protection and gloves are a good idea too. Don’t let young kids operate power tools. Make sure teenagers have something substantial on their feet (not just flip flops) if you can get them to mow the lawn.

  5. Keep pets and kids well out of the way of debris flying from mowers and weed whackers.

  6. Disconnect power tools from the power source before cleaning or servicing them

  7. Don’t use electrical tools in wet conditions.

  8. Keep your hands and feet away from cutting blades, moving parts and hot surfaces.

  9. Don’t leave hoses out where someone could trip over them

  10. Use proper body mechanics when you’re lifting, and don’t carry large new plants in front of you so you can’t see where you’re going.

Most of these tips are from Health Canada’s Product Safety division. Tip #10 is all my own. I’ll be fine, really I will. A few days in bed and I’ll be good as new.

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