Moving day: Tips to avoid injuries on the big day

By Vanessa Racine, social media coordinator
A black and brown dog sitting in a cardboard box.Are you currently packing boxes for a fast approaching move? Having lived through my own move recently believing that I was prepared for any contingency, and after a few minor injuries and several ups and downs, I compiled a few tips so you can avoid injuries when moving day comes.

If you missed the first part of this article about moving day preparedness, you can read it here: Getting organized to move: Where do you start? 
2 tips to avoid injuries

Now that you’re ready for the big day, here are some tips to keep in mind, based on my own experience.
1. Take your time
Between following the rental truck’s schedule and the new tenants who want to move in, there are many reasons for wanting to finish your move quickly. Nonetheless, it is important to set a proper pace for the day.
The CNESST recommends taking time to warm up. To do this, you could start packing the truck with small loads. This exercise will activate your cardiovascular system as well as your muscles. Then, don’t forget to take regular breaks throughout the day and to take the time to analyze situations (for example, how to lift or lower a very heavy object safely).

Also keep in mind that you need to hydrate regularly and eat well, especially during a heat wave, to avoid heatstroke. For tips on moving on hot summer days, check out Staying cool and safe in Canadian summers.
I also recommend that you take your time when setting down boxes and furniture, and that you avoid stacking objects too high. Otherwise, beware the mountain of things that could fall on your head and cause you a very nasty concussion, as it did me. I can assure you that trying to play life-size Jenga with your boxes is a terrible idea.
2. Maintain good posture
Posture plays a vital role in preventing injury during a move. Here is a rule that will help you maintain good posture and be more efficient throughout the day:

When lifting heaving loads, keep your back straight and your knees bent when you pick them up. Your legs should be the hardest working part of the body during a move.

In case of injury

Despite your best efforts, a more serious injury to bones, muscles or joints could still occur during the move. In this case, you can apply the RICE method:

R: Rest – stop everything and rest without moving or straightening the injured body part.
I: Immobilize – immobilize the injured area by creating a splint if necessary.
C: Cool – cool the injured area for 20 minutes every hour to reduce swelling and pain, for up to 48 hours. If you use ice, put a thin cloth or pad between the ice and the bare skin to avoid freezing the skin.
E: Elevate – keep the injured area above heart level, if possible. However, do not raise the injured area if moving it will cause pain.
Finally, if the pain persists beyond 48 hours, you should consult a doctor.
Moreover, don’t forget to have a first aid kit handy and make sure you know where it is among your many boxes, to avoid having to search for it! When opening my first box with a knife, I also cut my hand quite deeply.

Since I couldn’t find my kit, I had to go to the local pharmacy, with my arm up in the air, to get some bandages. In the end, I had to get stitches at the hospital for this injury, in addition to having one hand out of commission during the following days while I unpacked my boxes. That said, remember that it’s important to take your time, especially with sharp objects, and to quickly treat any injuries that may occur. Find out what your first aid kit should contain.
As I mentioned before, it pays to be prepared for all contingencies and risks.

You now have all the tools you need to make sure your move goes smoothly and without too many unfortunate surprises.
Please note that these tips are for reference only and are not a substitute for first aid training. Find a course near you.
You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid app to always have practical resources at your fingertips.
Download this checklist from the government of Canada to plan for a smooth move.
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