“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure” — Hippocratic Oath.
In the kitchen
- Most hand injuries can be prevented by adhering to simple, commonsense guidelines.
- When using a knife, never cut towards yourself. Protect your other hand by cutting away from your fingers to keep them out of harm’s way.
- Always cut on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
- Keep knife blades sharp. A dull blade can be more dangerous than a sharp one because it requires more force to use.
- Always store knives and sharp tools away from the reach of children.
- Load the dishwasher with the sharp blades pointed away from you.
- Turn the handles of pots and pans away from you when using the stovetop. Outward facing handles can be bumped or grabbed by children.
- Keep frequently used items on the lower shelves within easy reach. Use a sturdy stepstool to reach higher cabinets when necessary.
- If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is often necessary for best outcome.
In the workshop
- Power saws are responsible for thousands of serious hand injuries and finger amputations each year in the United States. Many of these injuries can be prevented.
- Always remain focused and alert when using a saw or power tool. Remember that years of careful use can be undone by a brief moment of inattention.
- Protective gloves can prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and lacerations; however, major injuries from a saw or other power tool cannot be prevented with gloves.
- Always disconnect the power supply when cleaning or changing the blades of a power saw.
- Use power saws with guards or blade-stopping technology. Do not alter or modify the safety features of a saw. Keep tools in good working condition.
- Use a push stick when using a table saw. Never use your hands to advance items into a saw blade.
- Always work on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
- Always use tools for their intended purpose. For example, don’t use a screwdriver as a chisel.
- Keep children away from sharp tools.
In the yard
- Injuries from lawnmowers and snowblowers can be devastating. Most of these can be prevented by following simple, commonsense guidelines.
- Never clear a jammed lawnmower or snowblower with your hands. Disable the power source and clear the jam with a tool, not your fingers.
- Protective gloves can help prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and cuts, but they will not prevent severe injuries.
- Never lift a lawnmower by grasping under its base, where sharp blades are hidden from sight.
- Ensure adequate lighting while working.
- Wear sturdy footwear to prevent slips and falls while using a lawnmower. Avoid working on wet grass.
- Keep lawn tools away from children.
In the gym
- Consult with your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise routine.
- Warm-up with light exercises and gentle stretching prior to exerting yourself. Consider 5-10 minutes of jogging or biking prior to lifting weights.
- Keep hands away from the moving parts of workout machines.
- Remove rings and jewelry prior to a workout as these may get caught in a machine or on a free-weight.
- Consult a trainer or gym employee if you are unfamiliar with the equipment.
- Always maintain control of proper form and technique while lifting weights. Do not “cheat” or deviate from proper form to lift more weight.
- Allow an adequate amount of time between workouts to allow the body to rest. The amount of time required will vary between people. Listen to your body to avoid overtraining.
- Maintain the strength and coordination of core muscles and legs to improve balance.
- Stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after a workout.
- Keep children away from treadmills and workout machines to avoid fingertip injuries.
In the home: fall prevention for seniors
- Thousands of senior Americans are injured in falls at home each year. Fall prevention guidelines can reduce the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, shoulder, and spine.
- Remove clutter from the floor to avoid tripping over objects such as books, paper, and clothing.
- Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape. Tack down edges of loose carpet.
- Remove unnecessary electrical wires or telephone cords from the walkway.
- Install a non-slip mat or adhesive strips in the shower and bathtub. Place a non-slip rug next to the shower or tub for safe exiting.
- Avoid the use of slippery floor wax and tile cleaners.
- Install handrails on all staircases. Always hold onto handrails when using the stairs.
- Avoid placing items on shelves beyond your reach. If required, use a sturdy stepstool. Never climb on an unsteady chair or countertop to reach a shelf.
- Ensure adequate lighting in the house and consider night lights for evening use. Consider keeping a flashlight by the nightstand.
- Avoid medications which make you drowsy or dizzy, when possible.
- Wear shoes with non-slip soles both inside and outside the home. Avoid using slippery sandals or house shoes.
- Check your vision at least once a year and keep your prescription eyewear current.
- Start an exercise program which improves balance and coordination.
- Talk to your primary care physician about osteoporosis prevention and treatment.
- If you have an injury to your hand or arm, please contact the Raleigh Hand Center promptly at 919-872-3171 to request a consulation with an orthopaedic hand specialist.