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COVID-19 has generally reduced most time outside the home for many, leading to more forms of productivity at home, like do-it-yourself projects, which has its own set of safety risks. From crafts to landscaping and home improvement, orthopedic specialists Dr. Edward Westerheide, Dr. Brad Bernacki and Dr. Alex Tancevski at Orthopedic Specialists & Sports Medicine offer expert safety guidelines for adults and families to follow while undertaking any project this fall. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (740) 788-9220 to schedule a safe in-office appointment at 2750 Newark-Granville Road. The practice’s Orthopedic Urgent Care as well as telehealth appointments are also available.

"Home improvement, craft projects and other do-it-yourself work can mean minor and serious bone, joint and muscle injuries," says Dr. Bernacki. "This year, more area residents may be at risk for these injuries than usual as DIY booms in popularity during COVID-19."

"From home decorating and finishing a fire pit to winterizing the home and keeping the gutters clean, fall projects are usually rewarding," adds Dr. Westerheide. "However, because many projects come with some safety risks, my colleagues and I wanted to share some guidance to help avoid orthopedic injuries."

Follow these safety tips to help avoid injuries when taking on a project:

  • Know the tools you need and how to use them safely: Make sure that you have the proper tools for your any project and know proper usage and technique before starting. This can include anything, from finger fractures with improper hammering to deep cuts and even nerve injuries while using scissors, knives and other small, sharp tools. Also, always keep sharp objects away from young children.
  • Pay attention to your power tools: Tool safety is all the more important with drills, power saws, lawn mowers, weed whackers and even sewing machines. Know exactly how to operate a machine before you use it. To avoid a variety of traumatic injuries, make sure your machine is stable and keeping your complete focus. Do not put your arm or hand near drill bits, moving blades or needles before a machine is turned completely off.
  • Dress appropriately for the project: Safely using equipment means wearing the right equipment, so be sure to have on eye protection, a dust mask, gloves and proper attire as needed (no dangling jewelry, loose sleeves or baggy clothes that may trip you or get caught). If you have long hair, wear it up and out of the way. Shorts, bare feet and sandals are also ill-advised for most tasks, so be careful with leg- and footwear.
  • Practice workspace safety: Make sure you do your work in a well-lit, clean and dry area with stable surfaces. You should also place any tool not being used in a safe location to help you avoid tripping injuries, like bruises, strains and wrist and ankle sprains.
  • Use extra care with ladders: Fall-related injuries, such as fractures, shoulder or elbow dislocations, rotator cuff injuries or more severe injuries, are common with ladder use. Make sure that your ladder is placed on a flat surface. Keep the weight centered and do not overextend to reach any item. Also, make sure someone is holding the ladder.
  • Take it easy and switch it up: Taking breaks and varying your tasks can help prevent acute injuries, such as strains in your back, forearm and upper arm muscles, as well as chronic injuries, such as tendinitis, tennis elbow or nerve conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Listen to your body, especially if heavy lifting is involved.

"If you sustain an injury while working with tools or doing heavy lifting and you feel any numbness, pain or have loss of movement in your arm or other extremities, seek medical attention," says Dr. Tancevski. "If you've sustained a serious injury, you should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible."

To learn more about orthopedic safety or to schedule a safe appointment with one of the specialty-trained orthopedic doctors at Orthopedic Specialists & Sports Medicine, please call (740) 788-9220.