Moving Safety Tips
Each year on September 1st, the streets of the Boston area are littered with moving trucks, vans, packed cars, clumsy amateur movers and any friends and family members they could persuade to participate in the big move. The biggest moving day of the year surely comes with its hazards, as a variety of these movers maneuver their way into new digs, one heavy box at a time. To prevent this event from being a “back-breaking” one, Jeffrey Neal, physical therapist in Rehabilitation Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has some tips for movers.
Preparation is key; Neal offers general tips to keep in mind before the move:
• Pack boxes over time to avoid sore muscles on moving day.
• Disperse heavy items in the bottom of a box with lighter items on top to maintain even weight distribution. The heavier the items, the smaller the box should be.
• Place boxes on an elevated surface while packing to avoid repeatedly bending over.
• Secure boxes with tape to prevent contents from spilling when lifted.
• Dress for the task: wear lightweight, comfortable clothes and supportive and sturdy shoes (avoid sandals).
• Stretch your muscles and warm up with a light activity as you would before any exercise.
Improper lifting techniques can cause a variety of injuries: neck and back muscle strain, ligament sprains, herniated discs and even compression fractures of the spine. To prevent potentially serious and lasting injuries, Neal provides smart techniques for movers.
- Know your limits: lift a corner to test items first. Ask for help with heavy or bulky loads.
- Establish a firm grip and a wide stance before fully lifting. Hold the heaviest portion of the load closest to the naval, your center of gravity.
- When lifting objects, always bend at the knees, keeping your back straight and your abdominal muscles firm. Reverse the motion, avoiding an arched back, to lower objects.
- When lifting items from inside a vehicle, place one foot in the vehicle to increase your mechanical advantage.
- Never hold your breath when lifting a load, as this may cause elevated blood pressure levels.
- Know where you plan to place an object before lifting and carrying it. Keep paths clear and move slowly while maintaining a clear line of vision.
- If another person is sharing the load, communicate to lift and lower in unison.
- Avoid twisting, which compounds stress in your back and affects balance. If you must turn, move your feet to change direction and pivot with your whole body.
- Push, rather than pull, to maximize use of your full body weight.
- Rest heavy or awkward items on waist-level surfaces midway through carrying.
- Avoid reaching overhead with objects. Keep elbows close to sides when lifting.
- Consider using devices such as handcarts, back supports and stepladders to ease strain.
- Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Some are at higher risk for injury while moving. Neal cautions individuals to think twice before lifting heavy objects if they:
- Have a history of neck or back injuries
- Currently experience neck or back pain
- Have poor cardiovascular endurance and do not exercise regularly
- Have respiratory and cardiac conditions
- Are at risk for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or bone density disorders
- Are pregnant or think they may be pregnant
Grilling Tips for a Safe Summer
Summer is synonymous with barbeques and cookouts. While planning your backyard celebration with friends and family, keep in mind the risks involved with using a grill and preparing an outdoor spring meal. Ron Walls, MD, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides some tips to make sure your weekend of grilling is safe and healthy.
Dr. Walls offers advice on safe summer grilling:
Never barbecue in a house, garage, or any other enclosed area. Position grill far from activity, commotion and children.
Do not add accelerants, such as gasoline or kerosene, after your grill is lit
Use long-handled barbecue utensils to avoid burns and splatters.
Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings. These could catch fire. For the same reason, tie your long hair back.
Have an emergency-extinguishing plan: close the lid immediately to deprive the fire of oxygen. Use baking soda to control a grease fire, and a fire extinguisher, bucket of sand, or a garden hose to put out a grill fire.
Never leave a grill unattended once it is lit.
For grills that use propane, be sure to turn off both the grill burner controls and the main tank valve after use.
Do not attempt to move a hot grill.
Do not dump hot coals on the ground, particularly near a dwelling or other structure. Coals should remain in the grill until they can be stirred with a stick and the stick remains cool or only slightly warm to the touch.
Germs such as E-coli and salmonella can be present in undercooked food and cause severe illnesses. However, these food borne illnesses can be easily avoided by preparing and storing foods properly. Dr. Walls shares tips on how to handle food safely.
Don’t rely on external appearance: use a grill thermometer or cut into the meat to gauge if food has been cooked to the desired doneness.
To kill bacteria reliably, hamburgers have to be cooked until “well done” (160 degrees Fahrenheit), ground poultry to 165 degrees, and poultry parts to 180 degrees.
Store raw meat, fish and poultry away from other foods. All foods should be wrapped tightly to prevent cross-contamination.
Keep meat refrigerated until about 30 minutes before cooking.
Do not return cooked poultry to a plate that held raw poultry. Bring along extra disposable dishes and containers to keep raw meats separate from cooked foods. Do not use an implement (e.g. a knife) for cooked meat or any other food after using it on raw meat.
If using a cooler to store raw meat or prepared foods (e.g. mayonnaise-based salads), use plenty of ice to keep temperatures below 40 degrees.
Temperatures can reach 150 degrees in the trunk, so transport coolers inside an air-conditioned car. Once outside, keep the cooler in the shade and store beverages in a separate cooler so that the food cooler is kept closed and cool.
Pack moist towelettes to clean your hands or use antibacterial gels.
If there is still ice in the cooler when you get home, cold foods are safe to keep. If ice is melted, throw the food away.
Dr. Walls says, also remember other safety precautions, like protecting against the sun with sunscreen and protective clothing and using mosquito repellant containing DEET to minimize bites, which can carry disease.
Spring Allergies Come Early This Season
Most Boston residents are grateful for the lack of snow and freezing temperatures this winter. Yet for others, this unusually-early warm weather can only mean one thing: unusually-early spring allergies. While spring officially began yesterday, March 20th, trees began shedding pollen several weeks ahead of schedule this season.
The most common early spring allergy is Allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever. The condition affects around 50 million people in the U.S. alone. Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens such as molds or pollen. Other early spring allergies include conjunctivitis, also known as eye allergies, and dermatitis, also known as skin reactions.
Spring allergy tips:
- Keep pollen under control by washing bedding every week in hot water. Wash your hair and shower before going to bed, since pollen can accumulate in hair.
- Clean every surface in your home.
- Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming, or painting to limit dust and chemical exposure. Vacuum twice a week.
- Wash rugs.
- Limit throw rugs to reduce dust and mold.
- Keep indoor air clean by closing windows to prevent pollen from entering the house. Change filters in air conditioning units and vents frequently this time of year.
- Consider allergy medicine
- Talk to your doctor about a seasonal allergy drug that may be appropriate for your symptoms.
This page was last modified on 8/28/2012