You wouldn't attend a building site without a hard hat, nor would you remove a tray from the oven without a mitt. Why should health and safety in the garden be of any less concern? It shouldn't.
Before rushing outside for a spot of gardening, think C.W.E.E.T. (pronounced sweet). What's C.W.E.E.T., you might ask? Each step of C.W.E.E.T. is something you should consider before doing any gardening. These five simple steps are designed to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe and healthy. You don't have to spend hours pre-cautioning. All you need are a few minutes knowing what to look for.
C.W.E.E.T.Ã?Â stands for Chemical, Weather, Electrical, Equipment and Tools. We will now take a look at each of these steps, keeping an eye out for dangerous warning signals and hazards as well as looking at preventative measures to ensure safety.
Chemicals are ever present in modern day gardening, from the herbicides contained within everyday weed killing solutions to the pesticides we use to protect our precious plants and vegetables. With these quick and effective solutions also come dangers which we should be aware of. All chemicals designed for home use will have instructions on their usage, dosage and storage. It is vital that we follow these instructions precisely. The fumes from using too much of a chemical can be harmful to the body, and keeping a chemical stored unsafely, perhaps somewhere in the reach of children, has obviously disastrous consequences. Also, when handling chemicals be sure to wear gloves to prevent irritation or corrosion on the skin. If any chemical does touch your skin, or somehow gets in your eye or is digested, seek medical attention. Most of us know to treat chemicals carefully so it's just something we need to continue to do correctly, and keep an eye out for when we begin our gardening.
Weather can affect gardening in a number of ways. Hot weather, although we'll be lucky to see any of that as November rolls in, means you have to keep well hydrated and take plenty of breaks between working, being careful not to exhaust yourself. Plus, ensure you wear sunscreen to protect from harmful UV sunlight. Cold weather, a much more likely scenario, not just at this time of year but in Scotland in general, must also be taken into consideration when gardening. Gardening in cold weather means wrapping up warm. It means thinking about the texture of the soil and whether or not digging could cause damage to your back. If the weather is dry then trimming the hedge or cutting the grass are still doable. Of course, rain is another type of weather which can change your gardening plans in a heartbeat. Not only is rain unpleasant to garden in, but it can be dangerous depending on what you are doing. Using any electrical equipment in the rain is a strict no-no, and brings the risk of electric shock. In the rain, and snow as well, you must be wary of how slippery the ground is, and wear appropriate footwear, perhaps sturdy boots. This is all common sense and doesn't take any longer than a few seconds to think over, however those seconds are important to ensuring absolute safety.
Electricity can be dangerous if not used appropriately. As stated above, never use any electrical equipment in the rain, or near water. To ensure complete electrical safety it is best to invest in an RCD (Residual Current Device), a gadget which cuts the current of any unsafe device. A device may be considered unsafe when it is being fed too much power, or when a wire is frayed or broken. The RCD ensures that no more power reaches the device, making sure you don't get electrocuted. So, if you were to accidentally run over your lawnmower cable whilst cutting the grass, you need not worry (except for the fact that you'll need a new cable).
Equipment is essential in the garden. Make sure you're wearing the right attire for the right job. If you're weeding, wear a pair of gardening gloves. This not only stops your hands getting dirty but it lessens your chance of getting dirt in any small cuts you might have. If you're cutting logs with a chainsaw, wear goggles, a hard hat and a pair of steel toe-capped boots, as well as your gloves to keep a solid grip on the chainsaw. If you're digging it's also best to wear some steel toe-capped boots. You'll know what you need to wear when doing a certain job. All you need to do is think which parts of your body will be most vulnerable when doing the task and work out how to protect them. Some jobs won't require any safety equipment, such as mowing the lawn.
Tools, from the simplest spade to the most high tech ride-on lawnmower, are what make gardening possible. The best way to achieve safety with your garden tools is to follow the instructions provided with them Ã¢â?¬â?? they might be boring but they are there for a reason. Never use the wrong tool for the wrong job, as this will not only lessen the final result of the job, but it will put you at risk. Finally, never leave tools lying around. Children, animals or even other adults could hurt themselves. Always store your tools safely away in a shed or cupboard.
If you follow the process of C.W.E.E.T. before every venture into the garden then you are guaranteeing your health and safety, and that of those around you. It only takes a few minutes, and those few minutes can make all the difference. Stay safe, stay gardening, stay C.W.E.E.T.
By Dylan Blyth.
We sell and service all types of Agricultural and Horticultural Machinery, from lawnmowers for small gardens to tractors. We are approved dealers for many brands including Stihl, Toro, Hayter, Mountfield, Cub Cadet, Stiga, Iseki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Scag, Jenz, Major
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