Get the Dirt on Gardening Health and Safety

A smiling middle aged woman wearing a hat and overalls kneels in her garden to work

We all know the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” And we all know that gardens grow because they are tended to with love and dedication. But did you know that there are CDC-recommended health and safety precautions while gardening? Apparently, it’s not as docile an activity as you might believe!

Here are CDC tips for enjoying this pastime safely:

  • Every gardening season should begin with a tetanus vaccine validation. Adults should receive the vaccine every 10 years. “Tetanus lives in the soil and enters the body through breaks in the skin. Because gardeners use sharp tools, and dig in the dirt, they are particularly prone to tetanus infections,” says the CDC. The use of gloves and sturdy shoes is recommended to help provide protection from dirty punctures or cuts.
  • Dressing for gardening should include skin, ear, and eye protection. Wear a hat, long pants, and sleeves to provide sun protection or apply sunscreen with SPF-15 or higher for exposed skin. Tuck pants into socks and use an insect repellent containing DEET to protect against ticks and mosquitoes. Use safety goggles when using power equipment or tools and wear hearing protection if using loud machinery.
  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be particularly hazardous for gardeners. Avoid working during peak hours of sun and drink more water if working outside for an extended period. Be sure to take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel physical discomfort or fatigue, stop and rest. Seek help or call 911 for injuries, heat-related illness symptoms, or experience chest and arm pain or dizziness.

Gardening offers many health benefits ranging from physical activity and active calorie burn, to vitamin D and mood improvement. But whether you’re an avid gardener or a newbie, always be prepared to enjoy this pastime safely.

Here’s to a safe and fruitful season of gardening!

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