Safety First.

Over the weekend I found myself sitting in a crumpled heap in a wheelchair in our medical centre’s after hours emergency clinic fearing the worst but not even wanting to formulate the words as thoughts, let alone share them out loud.  It was not my finest hour.

Don't let your deck get slippy in the first place!
Don’t let your deck get slippy in the first place!

If we wind back the clock an hour, you will find me in a much happier place.  I was up bright and early and in the garden on a positively gorgeous day.  I had a lot to do.  I had to get my garden ready for an impending garden visit from a group of keen gardeners the following day.  While there was a lot to do, the end was in sight and I even believed it would be possible to have the garden the most organised, weed free, tidy and in control as it has ever been.  I was feeling fabulous.

Keep your eyes safe
Bamboo poles and stakes are great for keeping wayward plants upright, but amongst dense lush foliage they become difficult to see. Reaching in to harvest some goodies could result in a poke in the eye, so pop something quite visible over the end. Ping pong balls work a treat.

I walked back towards the house to do something or get something and I’d left my gloves on the bench.  I don’t normally like to wear gloves, but the wasp sting from days before was irritating me and having a layer of latex between it and further potential damage was comforting.

Hoses can be tripping hazards
Don’t leave hoses lying about the place for someone to trip over. Especially across the front of the glasshouse! This is so dangerous.

I had noticed the deck in the early morning shadow was a bit slippy and called out to Hubby the Un-Gardener to take care when walking over it.  However, once I was back in the garden and about to start, I realised I’d left my gloves inside and leap up – keen to not waste a moment of such a beautiful day and hurried towards the house, across the very spot I’d warned Hubby Un-Gardener about.  At this point things went horribly wrong.

Wasp nest
Sometimes nature provides the hazard in the form of biting and stinging things. The best way is to stop them making themselves at home when you first see them and try to avoid them as best as you can. It isn’t really an easy fix as they love the environment you have created just as much as you do.

My feet flew out from beneath me.  I went up and then with a spectacularly dramatic plunge onto – thankfully – the soft earth on the lawn beside the deck. I narrowly missed the newly installed paving stones that had been strategically placed to make the place a lot less slippy.  As I came crashing down – I heard a horrifying cracking sound in the region of my neck.

Don't leave your rake up
Don’t leave your rake up – this is asking for trouble. Put your tools away when you are finished with them. A whack in the face with a rake handle isn’t very nice – so I’ve been told.

I lay there for a while wondering what to do.  No one had seen me fall and Hubby the Un-Gardener was using the weed eater with earmuffs on, and rightly so.  The kids were inside watching the early morning cartoons.  There was nothing for it but to yell for help.  It felt so melodramatic, but I couldn’t get off the damp lawn by myself.

Keep dangerous weeds out of the garden
Don’t allow poisonous weeds to grow amongst your edible crops. You may know it is there and be meaning to get to it soon. But an Un-Gardener or hungry child may not expect anything untoward, like this nightshade, lurking among the good things to eat.

Hubby the Un-Gardener –  at my insistence because I’m stubborn like that – gently helped me to my feet.   I started by wiggling my fingers and toes and worked my way onto bigger limbs and finally my neck.  Everything moved and there was no searing pain.  So I apologised for scaring everyone and started to garden again – with my gloves on.

Manure is just nasty
While well rotted manure is great for the garden – at the end of the day it is poop and poop contains things that can make you sick. So wear gloves and wash your hands well after using.

Over the next 10 minutes things began to feel a little weird and I had a nagging feeling things weren’t all as they should be.  I should have realised my annoying MS had a habit of masking pain.  It is great when you have a sore throat you can’t feel – but when you may have damaged your neck – this could be a bit of a problem.

Dry potting mix can seriously damage your health
Compost and potting mix can put you at risk of legionaires disease which can seriously damage your health or even kill you. Dry soils and mixes provide greater risk so avoid working with dusty materials or wear a mask.

By the time I found Hubby the Un-Gardener and suggested I needed to go to the doctor, the reality of it all set in and pain and aching crept across my entire body and I could barely move.

Read all of the label
Many of the lotions and potions – natural or purchased have hazards. Make sure you know exactly what you are using and what the risks are. Make sure you know what to do if things go wrong.

The doctor was really lovely and assured me all I had done was jar a muscle in my neck and I should feel better in a day or two.  With much relief I suffered in grateful silence as my shaken and shocked family tended to my every need.   Hubby the Un-Gardener went out and immediate put down some anti-slip strips. Unfortunately I had to cancel my group visit and the garden is still a bit of a mess, but tantalizingly close to being the most organised it has ever been.

Anti slip treads keep wooden decks from becoming a death trip on damp days
Anti slip treads keep wooden decks from becoming a death trip on damp days

Gardens are actually quite dangerous places and as gardeners working in them we need to make sure we take all precaution to stay in one piece so we can continue to grow great things for our families to make them healthy.

 Come again soon – I may be a little battered and bruised but I’ll recover and be in the garden again soon.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

21 thoughts on “Safety First.

    1. Thanks Terri. It was all bit shocking, but I’m feeling better now.
      It is just as well gardening is so much fun because it is actually very dangerous!
      Cheers Sarah : o)

  1. I knew you fell, but I didn’t know you had to seek medical care. I am so sorry to hear this news, Sarah. I hope you recover without any ill effects. I’m happy to hear that your family came to your rescue and that they continue to help you in your time of need.

    I did not know you could contract Legionnaire’s disease from soil. That is really scary. I have had more than one fall over the years, but the most embarrassing was the day I tried to trim the fruit tree from a ladder. The foot sunk into soft soil, and down I went. I bruised my back side and roughed up my shin, but I look back and know it could have been much worse. The following hear I hired someone to prune the tree. My ladder climbing, tree trimming days are over.

    I hope you fell better soon.

    1. Sorry you had to cancel the garden visit after all the anticipation. I’m glad you are okay after that nasty slip, anyway.

      I too did not know about legionnaires disease from compost, though I do now remember reading about wearing a mask when you handy the compost heap.

      1. Hi Helen. It was really disappointing to have to cancel the visit. I’d worked so hard to get ready for it.
        Legionella naturally occurs in soil and water ways in low numbers but is most harmful when inhaled as dust or water droplets.
        Most of our potting mix bags warn about about the hazards of breathing in the soil.
        Stay safe in the garden.
        Cheers Sarah : o)

        1. The bags here say about washing your hands but I don’t think they do say about breathing in the dust.

          However, I’ve just done an Internet search and found advice from the Royal Horticultural Society. Cringe! I’ve taken so many risks, but as I’m still here and now know I will be a bit more careful. Thanks!

    2. Hi Alys. At the time it was quite frightening and it could have been a whole lot worse. My ego and I have recovered well.
      Legionella is naturally in the soil and water, so there is always a risk if you breathe it in. Having said that there are so many risks when gardening – it is one of the more dangerous hobbies!
      I need to think twice about pruning too – my fruit trees are getting quite big!
      Stay safe in your garden this season.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

      1. Thank you, Sarah. I’m no longer pruning the fruit tree after a bad fall. It could have been much worse, so I took it as nature’s little preview of what could happen if I wasn’t more careful. I hope you continue to improve.

    1. Hi Elaine. It was kinda scary at the time. I’m much better now, but still a little achy in my neck at the end of the day. Not something I’d recommend anyone else does. If you do have a deck – it is a good idea to give it a scrub from time to time.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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