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Six safety tips for raking leaves

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Oct 7, 2014 8:30:00 AM

fall leavesFall in the Midwest is a beautiful and enjoyable time of year. Leaves turn magnificent colors of yellow, red, and orange. Do you know why leaves change colors? The simple answer is that the days are getting shorter, resulting in less chlorophyll. Here is a link to a video that explains this process in more detail.

So now you know why leaves change colors in the Fall. For many homeowners, however, there’s a downside to the beautiful changes: raking and disposing of those leaves. It’s important to rake up the leaves in your yard to keep it healthy. Decaying leaves aren’t only messy; they can ruin your lawn.

Here are some tips to make this job efficient and safe.

1. Disposal. Think about what you will do with the leaves before you start raking. Is there a citywide leaf collection? In West Bend, we can push leaves into the street for collection. Do you want to make compost for your garden? Do you have (or can you borrow) a pickup truck or trailer to take leaves to a public compost pile?

If you put the leaves in a garbage bag or can, don’t make them too heavy or awkward to carry by overfilling them.

2. Ensure you have the proper rake(s) for the job. A leaf rake/lawn rake is the correct rake for the job. This type of rake fans out like a triangle and is sold in varying widths. It’s usually made of plastic, metal, or wood.

If you have a steel rake, don’t use it. It can tear out your grass. A steel rake should only be used for raking stones or dirt.

To get in tight areas or between shrubs, use a shrub rake. This rake is like a leaf rake but much narrower. It will keep you from bending over and reaching into places you can’t see.

Lastly, if you want the best of both worlds, purchase a metal expanding rake, which can be used as a shrub rake and a leaf rake. When you push on the loaded springs, the rake expands, increasing its width.

3. Protect your eyes. Wear protective eyewear if you’re raking near trees with low-hanging branches.

4. Wear appropriate shoes. Wet leaves can be very slippery. Make sure you wear shoes or boots with good traction. While I love wearing flip-flops, they shouldn’t be worn during yard work.

5. Stay hydrated. Even in cooler weather, you can work up a sweat. Make sure you drink plenty of water.

6. Practice ladder safety. If you’re removing leaves from your gutter, always make sure your ladder is on level ground and is the right size for the job. It’s wise to have someone help you. A helper can:
a. Provide additional support by holding the base of the ladder;
b. Hand you appropriate supplies; and
c. Keep an eye on your balance. While you may think you can stretch a bit more, someone with a better view can tell you otherwise and prevent you from falling.

For a robust list of fall safety tips, check out my blog post, “10 tips to help you enjoy Fall and keep you and your family safe.”

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Yard Safety

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