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Safety tips for working outside

By Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

Beautiful weather tends to make us want to be outside and spruce up our surroundings; but, whatever outdoor projects you may be tackling, always remember to put your safety first!

Summer and safety

A man in gardening gloves holding flowersWhen warm weather arrives, many people find that they have no shortage of work to do outside. Renovations, yardwork, clearing the gutters, cleaning, washing the windows, gardening, maintaining the pool… you name it. Everyone gets to work making their homes a pleasant backdrop to enjoy summer!
Hazards may be the last thing on your mind. Becoming aware of them ahead of time can prevent some unpleasant surprises. Taking effective precautions will help you make the most of your time spent working outdoors.

Too much sun, too little hydration

When it comes time to work outside, the beloved sunshine can also become your worst enemy. It can damage your skin if you haven’t taken steps to protect it. Farmer’s tans are a classic for a reason. It’s easy to let sun protection slip your mind when you are focused on a task!
Remember to always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+ at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun. Don’t forget your face and apply it generously to any skin that is not covered by clothing, a hat or sunglasses. For other tips about how to properly apply sunscreen, visit the Health Canada site
Another substantial threat is dehydration, which is more common during the summer. The sun, high temperatures, physical exertion, and excessive sweating can all play a part. Have lots of cold drinks while working and take breaks often, ideally in the shade. To prevent heat-related emergencies, read this article for some tips
These precautions will also reduce the risk of heat stroke, a potentially severe condition related to heat and dehydration. For more information, read our Comprehensive Guide for First Aid & CPR, pages 140 to 144. 

Posture and movement

Your back, joints and muscles work hard during periods of intense physical activity. All it takes is poor posture, one false move, or lifting a heavy object to exceed the limits of their capabilities. Hello pain, muscle cramps and muscle aches! Listen to your body and stop all activity if you feel any alarm bells going off. Better safe than sorry! Here are a few tips:
  • Avoid working crouched over without support, on your tiptoes or at arm’s length.
  • Don’t lift objects that are too heavy.
  • Don’t work in the same position for too long. Stretch and move around a little at regular intervals to prevent muscle cramps.
  • If you need to bend over, use your knees instead of your back.
  • If you are kneeling while working, use knee pads.

Other considerations

Lastly, here are some additional tips:
  • Apply insect repellent before working outdoors to protect against mosquito and tick bites. If you get bitten, learn what to do by checking out this article
  • If you are taking on an unfamiliar task, get expert advice so you can work risk-free.
Download the free Red Cross First Aid App so that you always have first aid advice at your fingertips. 
Work happy and healthy!

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