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Off-the-job hand injury prevention

February 1, 2014
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ambulanceIn the kitchen

Most hand injuries can be prevented by adhering to simple, commonsense guidelines.

  • When using a knife, never cut towards yourself. Protect your other hand by cutting away from your fingers to keep them out of harm’s way.
  • Always cut on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
  • Keep knife blades sharp. A dull blade can be more dangerous than a sharp one because it requires more force to use.
  • Always store knives and sharp tools away from the reach of children.
  • Load the dishwasher with the sharp blades pointed away from you.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans away from you when using the stovetop. Outward facing handles can be bumped or grabbed by children.
  • Keep frequently used items on the lower shelves within easy reach. Use a sturdy stepstool to reach higher cabinets when necessary.
  • If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is often necessary for best outcome.

In the workshop

Power saws are responsible for thousands of serious hand injuries and finger amputations each year in the United States. Many of these injuries can be prevented.

  • Always remain focused and alert when using a saw or power tool. Remember that years of careful use can be undone by a brief moment of inattention.
  • Protective gloves can prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and lacerations; however, major injuries from a saw or other power tool cannot be prevented with gloves.
  • Always disconnect the power supply when cleaning or changing the blades of a power saw.
  • Use power saws with guards or blade-stopping technology. Do not alter or modify the safety features of a saw.  Keep tools in good working condition.
  • Use a push stick when using a table saw. Never use your hands to advance items into a saw blade.
  • Always work on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
  • Always use tools for their intended purpose. For example, don’t use a screwdriver as a chisel.
  • Keep children away from sharp tools.

In the yard

Injuries from lawnmowers and snowblowers can be devastating. Most of these can be prevented by following simple, commonsense guidelines.

  • Never clear a jammed lawnmower or snowblower with your hands. Disable the power source and clear the jam with a tool, not your fingers.
  • Protective gloves can help prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and cuts, but they will not prevent severe injuries.
  • Never lift a lawnmower by grasping under its base, where sharp blades are hidden from sight.
  • Ensure adequate lighting while working.
  • Wear sturdy footwear to prevent slips and falls while using a lawnmower. Avoid working on wet grass.
  • Keep lawn tools away from children.

In the gym

  • Consult with your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise routine.
  • Warm-up with light exercises and gentle stretching prior to exerting yourself. Consider 5-10 minutes of jogging or biking prior to lifting weights.
  • Keep hands away from the moving parts of workout machines.
  • Remove rings and jewelry prior to a workout as these may get caught in a machine or on a free-weight.
  • Consult a trainer or gym employee if you are unfamiliar with the equipment.
  • Always maintain control of proper form and technique while lifting weights. Do not “cheat” or deviate from proper form to lift more weight.
  • Allow an adequate amount of time between workouts to allow the body to rest. The amount of time required will vary between people. Listen to your body to avoid overtraining.
  • Maintain the strength and coordination of core muscles and legs to improve balance.
  • Stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after a workout.
  • Keep children away from treadmills and workout machines to avoid fingertip injuries.

In the home: fall prevention for seniors

Thousands of senior Americans are injured in falls at home each year. Fall prevention guidelines can reduce the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, shoulder, and spine.

  • Remove clutter from the floor to avoid tripping over objects such as books, paper, and clothing.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape. Tack down edges of loose carpet.
  • Remove unnecessary electrical wires or telephone cords from the walkway.
  • Install a non-slip mat or adhesive strips in the shower and bathtub. Place a non-slip rug next to the shower or tub for safe exiting.
  • Avoid the use of slippery floor wax and tile cleaners.
  • Install handrails on all staircases. Always hold onto handrails when using the stairs.
  • Avoid placing items on shelves beyond your reach. If required, use a sturdy stepstool. Never climb on an unsteady chair or countertop to reach a shelf.
  • Ensure adequate lighting in the house and consider night lights for evening use. Consider keeping a flashlight by the nightstand.
  • Avoid medications which make you drowsy or dizzy, when possible.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles both inside and outside the home. Avoid using slippery sandals or house shoes.
  • Check your vision at least once a year and keep your prescription eyewear current.
  • Start an exercise program which improves balance and coordination.
  • Talk to your primary care physician about osteoporosis prevention and treatment.

The material provided on this site is intended for general information only and does not constitute medical advice. This site does not replace direct evaluation by a physician.

SOURCE: Raleigh Hand Center www.raleighhand.com

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