Avoid injuries while cleaning up after a storm - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Avoid injuries while cleaning up after a storm

When you see heavy equipment after a storm, you know the cleanup has begun.  

For the average homeowner, that means picking up and cutting up the debris they want hauled away.

Physical therapist Tom Coplin says it's also the time when a lot of people get hurt.

"People are doing a lot of stuff they're not normally used to, they're not in shape for; as a result we wind up with a lot of back sprains, mostly. But it also affects the knees, the shoulders, the ankles," he explains.

Injuries caused by lifting are some of the most common. Coplin says a little technique can go a long way toward preventing injuries.

"When you lift, don't bend at the waist, but squat at the knees. Pick it up, bring the weight as close to your body as you can, then stand with it," said Coplin.

Once in the correct position, take your time getting it to the curb or wherever it's going.

During long periods of lifting, experts say it's important to take breaks, stand up and occasionally arch your back. It reduces stress on muscles, ligaments and the spine.

Be careful with ladders. They can be bulky and awkward to maneuver. Losing control can lead to shoulder, back or even head injuries.

In addition to basic safety precautions, when using a chainsaw, avoid low back strain by not bending forward at the waist with arms extended for extended periods of time.

Also, watch your step. Slipping into a hole or tripping on uneven surfaces can do a job on your knees and ankles.

Coplin's last word of advice: "Use plain old common sense. If it feels like it's too heavy to lift it, then don't lift it."

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