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Editorial

Safety Pro


Spring Cleaning Pain-Free



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04/01/2009 - Spring Cleaning Pain-Free

By Randy DeVaul

The first real sign of Spring is not the return of robins, the buds or bulbs pushing up through the dirt, or even breaking out the windbreakers to replace the parkas. No, the one sign that tells me for sure Spring is here is the restless, anxious, almost relentless desire to want to clean the house and burn off all that energy.

The temperature gets warmer, the grass starts to green up (and grow), and people all around are ready to shed their winter blues for just about anything to do. Storm windows must come down, gutters must be inspected, the hose comes out from winter retirement, the house must be power-washed (or worse, painted), carpets must be steam-cleaned to get the "winter" out of them, the soil must be prepared for gardens, and the inside of the house must be "refreshed.".

All this flurry of activity inspires us to want to do great things. And, in the process, we find creative ways to take short cuts once we realize we can't get it all done in one day. How can we take all of this new-found energy and keep from killing ourselves?

First, set realistic expectations and schedules. Don't tear the entire house apart only to find you can't get it all back together before nightfall. Use a ladder that is actually tall enough to do the job. That means finding one that allows you to reach what you need without standing on the top rung or support step. If you don't have one, borrow or rent one. And, keep the ladder level, as in upright and straight, by not placing it on uneven ground or reaching beyond its side rails.

Combined with the ladders, falling is the leading cause of injuries at home. Keep stairs and walking areas free of clutter to prevent that from happening. Carry loads you can actually see over and get help for loads too heavy for you to carry alone.

When using cleaning solutions, wear gloves and don't stand "down-wind" of the over-spray. A caustic cleaner in your eyes ruins your day and it can cause permanent damage to your vision.

Let your kids help but be sure to give them chores they can actually do instead of chores they want to do to feel more grown up. Dropping the storm window or the five gallon bucket of brick-cleaning acid may cause a life-long injury in addition to testing your temper.

Never use gasoline as a cleaning solvent. Keep your kids and pets away from steam cleaners, power washers, and attractive-smelling solvents. Don't let your pet drink out of the cleaning bucket and, when you are finished with the bucket, empty it and store it upside down.

These are but a few suggestions to be pain-free when the urge comes upon you. Think about what can go wrong before you do it. Then you can take precautions to protect you and your family so you can be safe at home.

Randy DeVaul is an internationally published writer and author with more than 25 years in safety and emergency response services. He is the creator of 'Safe At Home' (www.safeathomeonline.com). Comments always welcome at safetypro@roadrunner.com.

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