Labor Day is typically thought of as marking the end of summer (it hurts me to even type that). Hopefully, your long holiday weekend will be packed with celebratory events like backyard barbecues, final excursions to the lake, picnics at the park, and fireworks. But even festive events like these present hazards you should be aware of.
Whether you’re planning a final summer outing or staying home to wrap up summer chores, I want you and your family to enjoy a safe holiday. Of course, I am a hand surgeon, so keeping that in mind, here are some simple and quick Labor Day safety tips that you can use to enjoy your weekend.
1. Be Careful with Fireworks
I love fireworks, but obviously there is an inherent danger in handling them. It is NOT a good idea to hold fireworks while you light them. Sounds simple and common sense, right? Then why do people continue to do this? Do not modify or tamper with fireworks, you could set them off. Children, in particular, are at risk. The National Safety Council reports that children 10 to 14 years of age are at three times the risk of being injured by fireworks than the population as a whole. Even sparklers can inflict serious injury. So please be mindful in handling and lighting these potentially dangerous items.
2. Protect Your Hands while Conquering Outdoor Chores
I will probably be out in the garden this weekend picking weeds – its a never-ending battle. I have a lot of weeds that have spines and can cause a lot of irritation if I don’t use proper protection. In fact, I have found that I have to double-glove. I wear a latex-coated work glove as the first layer and a leather garden glove as the outer layer. I used to just wear regular garden gloves, but I would still get poked all the time!! Not only can garden related injuries result in scratches and cuts, infection is also a real risk.
I have a hedge trimmer. Frankly, I am a little scared of it. I have had more than a handful of patients who have suffered injuries as a result of using hedge trimmers. I am not saying that you should not use them, I am asking you to please be careful. Keep BOTH your hands on the machine at all time so as to avoid any possible contact with the moving blades. Concentrate on the location of the blade – be aware of where it is at all times while it is on and moving. Use a tool to clear the blades if they jam – not your hands.
3. Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
Lets face it. Our hands are dirty. You may be out in the garden, or dealing with raw meats while grilling this weekend, so be mindful of germs and dirty. Wash contaminated surfaces and your hands frequently to avoid infection and/or getting sick.
4. Practice Safety Tips when Firing up the Grill for Labor Day
What’s a Labor Day holiday without lots of food? Hopefully, I’ll be firing up the grill myself.
Are you using charcoal? I do and wow, can it get hot. I bought special thick gloves to protect my hands when dumping hot coals from my chimney starter. I also use them when things get really hot and I am trying to handle the food on the grill. Gas grills get mighty hot too, so you might consider using them for that too. At the very least, think about using some general oven mitts to protect those hands when dealing with the fire and the heat. Burns can happen in an instant so best to be preventative and use the appropriate protection.
Have a good holiday everyone!