How to Stay Safe During Fall Cleanup

How to Stay Safe During Fall Cleanup


Winter is coming and you want to get your yard ready before the colder months arrive. But, in 2015 over 300,000 people visited the emergency room in yard work related injuries.1 

Overexertion during colder or even hotter weather can increase the risk for heart attacks. A 2015 study found a 31% increase in rates of heart attacks during the coldest months.

The reason is that cold air causes the blood vessels to constrict, forcing the heart to pump harder. Using your arms to pull and push puts additional strain on the heart. The physical exertion of cleaning or shoveling snow can increase pressure on the heart as well. All of these factors together may lead to a heart attack if the heart is not able to keep up. 

Tips to Prevent Injuries During Fall Cleanup

If you want to stay safe while getting your yard ready for winter, here are a few tips to prevent injuries:

  • Dress the part. Wear long sleeves, pants, and no-slip close toed shoes. Consider eye and hand protection. If you are using power tools of any kind, ear protection might be necessary as well.
  • Be cautious around heights. A fall from a ladder or even a stool can lead to severe injury. Avoid overreaching. Read the instructions for ladders to make sure they are secure before climbing. Only climb to the highest rung that is indicated.  
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Ice and wet pavement can increase the risk of falls. Be aware before stepping out onto the driveway to sweep leaves or snow. Pay attention to possible live electric wires that may be around the roof or even buried underground. 
  • Be aware of other family members. Children and pets can be curious about what you are doing while you are working outside. Teach them to respect lawn equipment while it is being used. Always supervise children and pets around sharp or dangerous lawn equipment. Store tools beyond the reach of children. 
  • Use correct, well-functioning tools. Try to avoid using broken or rusted tools. Make sure the tool is the right size for you and correct tool for the job at hand. Always read the owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with safety features. Check power cords before use and avoid using frayed cords. 
  • Listen to your body. If you feel chest pain or excessive fatigue take a break. If your chest pain worsens or you feel lightheaded, call 911. 
  • Practice basic safety. Unplug and store lawn equipment when not in use. Never mix fire and gasoline or electricity and water. Clean up spills immediately.
  • Hire help. Sometimes the safest thing to do is to hire help. A neighborhood teen might be thrilled to get paid to clean gutters or shovel the driveway. Paying for help may be more time effective and safer for you. 

Yard work can be a great form of exercise during the fall and winter months, if you take the right precautions to stay safe. Always ask your doctor before starting any type of exercise you are not used to. With a focus on safety, you can effortlessly get those leaves cleaned up or that first snow shoveled.




  1. 2015 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System
  2. PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0142382..


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    • Blog Contributor
    Comments 1
    • Regan Askwith
      Regan Askwith

      All of those are very informative tips and only if people working outside during this time of year would abide with them- it could surely save a lot of trips to the hospital.

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