Gardening Safety

Gardening is good way to both get outside and to ease your stress. Many find digging in the dirt helps them to practice mindfulness and cherishing the moment.  If you are a patient on warfarin, it’s a good idea to not get too distracted by the blooms and leaves. There a few things to keep in mind to stay safe when you are out in the yard and garden.

Look Out for Garden Pests

One of the more common things you can encounter in your garden are the variety of pests and creatures that may be hiding in the bushes and in the grass. A nice pair of sturdy leather gardening gloves can help protect your hands and wrists from any thorny branch or creepy crawler.1,2 Ticks, mosquitos and spiders are just a few of the bugs that can cause harm if they find access to your skin. Wearing long sleeves and tucking your pants into your socks can also prevent any from finding their way under your clothes. For even more protection, consider applying insect repellent containing DEET or lemon eucalyptus to keep the bugs away.1,2

Protect Your Skin

Long sleeves and gloves can protect you from other dangers including pesticides, harmful chemicals and rays from the sun.1,2  Wear a wide-brimmed hat and a broad-spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher to give all areas of your skin protection from the sun.3 The warm sun may feel nice and minor sunburns may not last all summer, but the effects of sun damage are not to be taken lightly. The ultraviolet rays from the sun are the number one cause of skin cancer.3

Use Gardening Tools Wisely

Gardening tools can pose a hazard to patients on blood-thinners like warfarin.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), emergency rooms treat more than 400,000 outdoor garden tool-related accidents each year.2 You can avoid many garden tool hazards by using the correct tools for their intended purpose. For example, tackling a small shrubbery with a chainsaw intended for a tree may not be the wisest choice. Be sure to make safety your first priority.

Give Yourself a Break

Some people use either kneepads or mats to protect their knees while they are bent over their garden. Your knees, though, are not the only thing you should be concerned about when gardening. Staying immobile in a position for long periods of time can increase your chances of developing a thrombus, or blood clot, in your lower legs.4 Sitting in the same position for 90 minutes at a time can reduce blood flow to your leg by about 40 percent.5 Make sure to give yourself plenty of breaks, standing to stretch your legs and keep the blood flowing (Check out our article about the signs and symptoms of DVT).

While you take a moment to stretch your legs and change your gardening activities, make sure to also keep yourself hydrated. When gardening in the hotter summer months, it’s important to know your limits in the heat.

While the risks of blood clots, bugs and blood are present in gardening, it should not stop you from experiencing the outdoors and getting a bit of healthy physical activity. Be sure to know the limits of your own body and speak with your physician about possible steps you can take to avoid more specific injuries to your health.

References:

  1. CDC Office of Women’s Health. Gardening Health and Safety Tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 22, 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/family/gardening/.
  2. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Gardening Safety. www.assh.org. 2016. http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-safety/gardening
  3. Simon, S. Have a Sun-Safe Summer. American Cancer Society. May 1, 2017. Retrieved from the website: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/stay-sun-safe-this-summer.html.
  4. Heart and Vascular Team. What Everyone Should Know About Blood Clots. Cleveland Clinic – Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org. January 27, 2014. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/01/what-everyone-should-know-about-blood-clots/
  5. Hilpern, K. Why Standing up Can Prevent DVT. Express. August 9, 2011. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/263778/Why-standing-up-can-prevent-DVT