Green Thumbs?

Keep These

(and Your Other Fingers)


Rohde Photo





(As seen on Fox 2 Detroit “The Ladies Room”)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

It’s that time of year…the yard is begging for some much needed TLC. I wrote before about lawnmowers and how to keep our fingers out of the mix. Now, even though last I checked, gardening was not on the list of dangerous hobbies, believe it or not, over 400,000 outdoor garden-tool-related accidents are treated in emergency rooms every year!


The good news is, most injuries can be avoided by keeping a few simple steps in mind:


Wear those gloves! Gloves in the garden serve several purposes. Many gardeners know that they help prevent blistering, protect fingernails, and prevent sunburn. They also protect your skin from pesticides, fertilizers, and bacteria and fungus in the soil. Leather gloves help protect you from thorns, bites, and poison ivy. The little pokes and scrapes you get in the garden can lead to horrible infections, so preventing them by using gloves is key!


Don’t do the same thing over and over…and over! Know anyone who plants, prunes, digs, or rakes for hours on end? That kind of repetitive activity can lead to irritation of your skin, tendons, nerves, and particularly your muscles. Make sure you vary your tasks and take breaks throughout the day to prevent aches and pains.


Never use a hand when the job calls for a shovel. Sharp objects and debris buried in the ground can cause serious injuries. Instead of digging blindly with your valuable fingers, use a shovel.


You deserve the right tools. Use them for their intended functions, and make sure that when you purchase a new tool, you opt for the one with a safety lock. Also, avoid products with “finger grips” molded into the handle; unless they fit your hands perfectly, they might turn out to be uncomfortable.


If you are injured while gardening, seek treatment at an emergency room or the office of a hand surgeon if:


  • Pressure does not stop the bleeding after 10-15 minutes
  • You are finding it hard to cleanse the wound thoroughly with soap and water
  • You are unsure when your last tetanus immunization was
  • You notice numbness or tingling in your fingers
  • Your wound becomes red, hot, swollen, painful, has drainage, or any other signs of infection

Safe and happy planting!