11 Ways Yard Work Can Blind, Maim, or Kill You
It's a dangerous world out there in the backyard—and if you aren't careful, keeping up the landscape could take you down
We're guessing you're going to spend a lot of time this summer mowing, raking, trimming and gardening in your yards. Nothing wrong with that. It's a great way to bond with the family, improve your curb appeal, and get some much-needed exercise. That is, unless—you guessed it—it kills you. Each year, thousands of us are rushed off to emergency rooms—and morgues—with yard work-related injuries, from missing digits, to freshly mowed feet. Click ahead to learn how that glorious green yard of yours can turn on you in an instant.
Green is good, right? Well, not always. Especially when it comes to a lawns that gets their emerald greenness via heavy doses of chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Those chemicals are associated with everything from breathing problems to certain types of cancers in humans (not to mention dogs and cats). A new study even found a disturbing link between lawn chemicals and Attention Deficit Disorder.
No big surprise that this Texas terror tool can inflict some pretty mass destruction. In fact, each year, about 36,000 of us are rushed to the ER for chainsaw-related injuries. And doctors almost always see an uptick of injures following thunderstorms, hurricanes and other natural disasters, as chainsaws are busted out to take care of fallen trees and branches.
Picture a sunny day in your backyard paradise. You're at the helm of your gas grill, gleefully sizzling up some T-bones while the wife serves up Harvey Wallbangers from her bar cart. Yes, indeed, it's a fine day in Suburban America. That is until a giant sinkhole opens up and devours you, your guests, the bar cart—even your house. OK, it's unlikely, but if you live in a state where sinkholes are commonplace—we're talking to you, Florida!—it could happen.
Getting stung by a wasp or a bee is one of the most unpleasant sensations known to man. For some of us, it can even be downright deadly. About 100 Americans die each year due to allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. If you're allergic, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, keep emergency supplies, like adrenaline, on hand, and try not to walk around with sweet beverage in hand, since bees love them as much as we do.
Be sure to mind your fingers next time you trim the hedges. About 4,000 of us are injured each year by hedge clippers—and digits are the number-one casualty. Other injuries include electric shocks from damaged extension cords, and eye injuries from airborne debris.
Heat related illnesses—from cramps to strokes—happen when your body's ability to dissipate heat is overtaken by high temperatures. According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 3,342 people died of heat sicknesses from 1999 to 2003. And remember, those with a history of cardiovascular disease are particularly susceptible.
Around 80,000 of us are sent to the hospital each year by what many see as man's second best friend—the lawnmower. This usually happens after a stick or a rock ricochets off the blade of our dear old John Deere, flies through the air, then shoots us right in the eye. But other injuries are even more gruesome, including the occasional fractured (or missing) foot. Keep in mind that, according to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the majority of lawnmower injuries happen to children younger than 15 and adults over 60. So think twice next time Junior or Great Grandpa asks if they can help out by mowing the lawn. And take care of your own face by wearing safety goggles.
Before you kick back after a long, hard day of yard work, be sure to check yourself for ticks. Lyme disease is transmitted through infected blacklegged tick bites, and can lead to fever, headache and rash. Things can get worse if it's left untreated, since the infection can spread to your nervous system, joints—even your heart.
A productive day of clearing out the gutters can turn tragic real quick-like if you fail to use your ladder properly. About 220,000 people get a fast and furious ambulance ride each year because of ladder related injuries.
Before you decide to pretty up your yard by planting a new Blue Spruce, be sure to call your utility company and make sure the location of that new sapling isn't over a power line. Otherwise, that tree might just mark your grave.
Just as much as kids love playing in a sandbox, so too do cats love pooping them. After all, they're basically supersized litter boxes. Just be sure to keep your sandbox covered so you can protect the kids from toxoplasmosis, a nasty little parasite often found in cat feces.