As the summer season fades into fall and long sunny days wane into short chilly nights, autumn can seem like a reward for surviving the summer. Being a safety column, let’s get right to it. The changing weather does pose risks for your health and home so it’s important to be aware of the shifting season and its impact on your surroundings. It’s time to take several safety measures and apply them to your home.

Leaves and Lawns

This time of year always makes me think of my dad. Gone for a while now, around this time of year he’d call to remind me that the Red Sox went another year without winning the World Series and how much the Patriots were going to stink. But the real purpose of the call was to tell me the sad news that all of the leaves in his yard were dead… and it was time to bring a rake and pay my respects. Raking leaves may not be everyone’s idea of fun but it sure is good exercise. Fewer leaves reduces the fire load in your yard and lessens the chance of a slip and fall, especially in rain.

Fall fertilizer might be good for your lawn but handle and apply it with caution. Fertilizer can cause skin and respiratory irritation and unintentionally ingesting it is never a good idea as it can be poisonous. It’s always a good idea to limit exposed skin. In addition to proper clothing, wear impervious gloves, safety glasses and a strongly suggested dust mask while preparing and applying the fertilizer.

Don’t Fall for Fall

Be it to prune trees, clear gutters, clean chimneys or to otherwise ready our homes for the cold months ahead, fall is ladder season. Each year, more than 150,000 of us are treated at emergency care centers for ladder-related injuries. Primarily occurring at home, 97% of these accidents are non-occupational and males account for nearly 80% of these injuries. There’s a gender joke or two somewhere in those statistics but I’ll pass.

Watch your back and check your safety devices

Whatever you’re doing this fall season, watch your back as you work by following these safety tips:

  1. Stretch: Make sure your muscles are ready for a workout
  2. Stand up straight: Pull from your arms and legs
  3. Relax: Rake for intervals of 10 – 15 minutes at a time, taking breaks in between

Be sure to check your home’s safety devices. In order to ensure safety inside your home, take a moment and check all of your safety devices, making sure the batteries are charged and that they work properly. For example, test all your smoke alarms inside your home. Make sure the batteries are working properly and are fully charged. In addition, make sure to replace used and expired fire extinguishers

Not being a fan of either fall or winter, I’m already thinking about next spring and which flowers to purchase, plant and kill… or at least feed to our resident groundhogs and rabbits who only survive and thrive because our granddaughters think they are so cute. Who am I kidding? In the words of Jed Clampett, “getting rid of those varmints would be like trying to poke a cat out from under a porch with wet rope”.

Have a safe fall season.