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Don’t fall into autumn

Whether you’re raking leaves, gardening, taking walks or mowing the lawn this fall, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and free from injury. Outdoor tasks can be more demanding than you may realize, so keep these tips in mind to stay safe all season long:

Prepare for activity

Raking, planting and mowing the lawn involve a lot of reaching, bending and lifting, so treat these activities like vigorous exercise.

  • Start off by gently stretching for at least 10 minutes before and after your activities to prevent any soreness, paying attention to your arms and back. Don’t stretch or reach too far.
  • Vary your movements, such as switching your arm and leg positions, to help balance the workload.
  • Bend at the knees—not at the waist—to keep the pressure off your lower back.
  • Avoid overfilling leaf bags, soil pots and wheelbarrows so that they aren’t too heavy.

Dress the part

  • Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles to avoid falling; gloves to protect your skin from blisters, cuts and chemicals; and long-sleeved shirts and boots (or tuck your pants into your socks) to ward off ticks.
  • Use goggles when you’re operating motorized machinery.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body and use an insect repellent that contains DEET to fight mosquitoes and ticks.

Put safety first

  • Don’t use any equipment that has gotten rusty or isn’t working properly.
  • Summer’s over, but temperatures can still soar during the autumn months, so drink plenty of water. Being out in the heat even for a short time can cause health problems.
  • Take breaks. Try to rest in shady areas so that your body can cool down and relax, and stop working if you feel breathless or experience muscle soreness.