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Be Safe this Fall - Parkridge Medical Center offers Tips for Home Improvement Projects

October 04, 2011

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (September 29, 2011) - Many homeowners have fall housekeeping traditions such as cleaning out gutters filled with fallen leaves, or picking up the ten million acorns that have dropped from the trees onto the yard below. Others may take advantage of slightly cooler temperatures to embark on ambitious projects – putting in new floors, remodeling a kitchen or patching holes in a roof. These activities require proper precautions, as many people end up requiring emergency care or hospitalization each autumn from accidents related to home improvement projects. Parkridge Medical Center is offering a few safety reminders in order to prevent injury during these activities.

“It is amazing how fast accidents can happen,” notes Dr. Heather Whaley, physician in Parkridge Medical Center’s Emergency Department. “People need to be particularly cautious when working at heights; with power tools; with bulky, heavy, hard-to-handle items; or with toxic materials.”

By making the effort to work safely, do-it-yourselfers can lessen the likelihood of a trip to the emergency room.

• Keep a neat work area. Tangled power cords and improperly stored tools can create hazards that might cause injury.

• Use personal protective equipment such as gloves and safety glasses whenever you use power tools, hammers, or other striking or cutting equipment. Keep tools and supplies out of the reach of small children.

• When using a ladder, make sure it is properly positioned and stabilized on a flat surface. Remember to keep your weight centered as you climb or reach, and do not lean out to one side. Never stand on the top two rungs. For roof work, do-it-yourself experts recommend using a ladder that is tall enough that at least two rungs rest above the eaves. This will allow you to hold onto the ladder as you step onto the roof.

• When using power tools, be sure to follow proper use guidelines and heed all precautions stated in the manual. Never try to adjust or service a power tool while it is still plugged in. Do not disable the safety features of your equipment.

• If you have a heavy load to move, use a dolly or cart if possible. If you must carry the load, remember to lift smoothly and slowly. Do not jerk the load or twist your body as you lift. Keep the load close to your body, as this will lessen the strain on your back muscles. Avoid lifting over your head or over an obstruction.

• Use personal protective equipment when handling hazardous chemicals and materials. Many products used in home improvement projects contain ingredients that are harmful to humans. Pay attention to all label warnings, including instructions about proper ventilation. Be sure to use a respirator if needed to protect from inhaling dangerous fumes or airborne particles.

• Do not attempt electrical work unless you are qualified to do so.

• Make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit that is easily accessible.

If you do suffer an injury while working on your home improvement project, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers a list of warning signs that indicate a medical emergency.

• Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

• Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure

• Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness

• Changes in vision

• Confusion or changes in mental status

• Any sudden or severe pain

• Uncontrolled bleeding

• Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

• Coughing or vomiting blood

• Suicidal feelings

• Difficulty speaking

• Shortness of breath

• Unusual abdominal pain

“If you have any of these symptoms,” notes Dr. Whaley, “you should seek emergency attention immediately.”

About Parkridge Medical Center
Parkridge Medical Center has been providing advanced medical and surgical services with compassionate care to patients in the Chattanooga and north Georgia area since 1971. The Parkridge advantage is our focus on service, individualized care and convenience for our patients. The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, an American College of Surgeons approved and commended oncology program, offers the latest in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Parkridge, an accredited chest pain center, provides 24-hour emergency care, intensive care, Acute Rehab, surgical services, vascular care, orthopaedics, a sleep disorders center, and comprehensive cardiac care including diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitation services. Parkridge was the first hospital in the region to perform robotics surgery and remains the most experienced team, having performed over 1100 robotic surgeries. Parkridge Medical Center, and its facilities Parkridge East and Parkridge Valley, is a part of the Parkridge Health System.

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