Weekend Warriors Beware: 6 Fall Cleanup and Home Repair Safety Tips

When the weather starts to get cool and the kids head back to school, we all start to think about how we’ll prepare our homes for fall and winter. So, if you’re planning on tackling some fall home improvements and cleanup, be sure to follow these home repair safety tips.

Fall cleanup can be a challenging but enjoyable job. Whether you’re pulling out plants, cleaning the gutters, or touching up some areas of your home before winter settles in, it feels satisfying to get your house projects settled for the season. But, unfortunately, many homeowners forget to follow home improvement safety—they take shortcuts, leading to slips, falls, strains, breaks, and sprains.

Should you experience any injury during your home renovations and cleanup, don’t hesitate to contact us at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin. Injuries can occur from yard work, home improvement projects, and slips and falls. Even if they seem minor, don’t push through the pain. Get your injuries checked out so you can go into winter feeling healthy and strong.

1. Listen to Your Body

Most of us aren’t home renovation professionals, but we like to tackle some home improvement projects on the weekends. It feels good to repair a fence, lay down pavers on your patio, or repair that corner of your roof. Not only are you upping your curb appeal, but you’re getting out and enjoying the remains of summer and early fall weather.

But since most of us don’t do home renovations regularly, our bodies aren’t always used to the job. For example, we may forget to lift with our legs (not our backs), or we may not quite have the proper technique for holding pruners and trimming trees.

One of the most essential home improvement safety tips is to listen to your body as you go. Don’t strain or stretch too far. If you aren’t used to lifting heavy loads, be sure to get help and lift carefully. It’s tempting to tackle all your home renovations in one or two weekends, especially if you know that cold weather is coming, but pace yourself. Do a project and then assess how you feel before you push too far.

2. Gather the Right Tools for the Job

No matter the job, the right tools will help everything go smoother. Many DIY home renovators and home improvers assume they can tackle any job with a YouTube tutorial and a trip to the local hardware store. But it’s important to use the right tools for each job.

If a ladder is too short, or the handle on your pruners isn’t quite long enough, you’ll stretch and strain to reach your target. Unfortunately, pushing these boundaries goes against home renovation safety tips and sets you up for injuries and accidents.

You should use every tool per the manufacturer’s instructions. “Rigging” up a solution to a home improvement problem isn’t only dangerous to your safety but could be hazardous to your home as well. Patch-up jobs and hacks may seem like a way to implement a quick fix, but it’s wiser to invest in doing a job the right way with the right equipment.

3. Follow Ladder Safety

Climbing a ladder can be one of the most dangerous tasks in the yard. It’s easy to tip, trip, slip or fall when you’re scaling even a short ladder (let alone a giant, extension-type ladder). Always follow ladder and home improvement safety tips when you climb.

Enlist the help of a friend or family member to hold the ladder at the base and monitor your safety. Always put a ladder on a flat, level surface and have one person stay at the bottom the entire time. Consider wearing a tool belt, so you aren’t trying to carry items or have someone hand up equipment once you reach a safe spot.

A ladder should be placed only 1 foot away from the home (or surface) for every four feet of height. This is called the “4 to 1” rule for ladder and home renovation safety. OSHA and other home improvement safety experts recommend you always have three limbs touching the ladder—using both hands to climb and placing your feet solidly on the steps. Never lean off the ladder or climb with bare feet (or sandals).

4. Clean Up Spills and Leaves

Set yourself up for winter safety by cleaning up any pools of water, spills, piles of debris, leaves, and rubbish. Not only can these piles and puddles attract pests, mold, and mildew, but they can cause tripping hazards and other issues when the snow begins to fall.

Beneath the snow, piles of leaves and yard debris will start to decompose and break down. These areas can become uneven spots in your yard, making prime targets for slips, falls, twisted ankles, and injuries. It’s also good to clean up the piles of leaves, so you don’t end up with a bigger problem in the spring.

Debris around the foundation of your home can lead to leaks and mildew. It can cause your home’s foundation to break down, and wooden areas like decks can begin to rot. If you don’t clean up the yard debris, your entire yard can become an obstacle course when the ground starts to thaw in March or April.

5. Wear Protective Gear

Another of our important home improvement safety tips is always to wear protective gear. Whether you’re engaging in sports, working from home, or doing yard cleanup, the right equipment makes all the difference.

We always recommend athletes wear the right shoes for the job. Weekend warriors may not face the same challenges as they would during exercise, but yard work is still physical activity–so it’s essential to gear up. Protect your ankles with sturdy footwear that supports you and offers good traction. No flip-flops or open toes when you’re using yard equipment!

Similarly, protect your hands with gloves and keep your eyes safe by wearing protective safety goggles, especially if you’re blowing leaves, scraping paint, or cutting down tree limbs. While some yard work-related injuries aren’t orthopedic in nature, they can still be dangerous and debilitating. Keep yourself safe by following all home renovation safety tips.

6. Know When to Call a Professional

Some jobs require expertise and professional assistance. Many of the injuries that happen during home improvements and home renovations occur because someone has taken on more than they’re equipped to handle.

Basic jobs like touching up paint, gardening, and yard cleanup are accessible for most homeowners, but you know your body best. If you have concerns about your knees or back, climbing up and down a ladder, or lifting during landscaping, don’t overdo it!

Call a professional to assist you with those home improvement projects that require extra effort and more expertise. In the long run, you’ll save yourself time, money, and risk.

Should you sustain an injury during DIY home improvement projects, the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is here to assist. Contact our friendly staff to schedule with our team of expert physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. We’ll help ensure you’re ready to enjoy the rest of autumn as we head into the winter!