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Thu, Dec. 05

Gardening is all-around health-promotion activity

You may not make the connection immediately, but the following information on gardening comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov). Gardening? Yes, gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get physical activity, beautify the community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables. It is a health-promotion activity any way you look at it.

Whether you are a beginner or expert gardener, health and safety are important. Below are some tips:

Dress to protect.

Gear up to protect yourself from lawn and garden chemicals, equipment, insects and the sun.

• Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants when using lawnmowers and other machinery.

• Protect your hearing when using machinery.

• Wear gloves to lower the risk for skin irritations, cuts and certain contaminants.

• Protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. Use insect repellent containing DEET. Wear clothing treated with permethrin, long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked in your socks.

• Lower your risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher

Put safety first.

Powered and unpowered tools and equipment can cause serious injury. Limit distractions, use chemicals and equipment properly, and be aware of hazards to lower your risk for injury.

• Follow instructions and warning labels on chemicals and lawn and garden equipment.

• Make sure equipment is working properly.

• Sharpen tools carefully.

• Keep harmful chemicals, tools, and equipment out of children's reach.

Watch out for heat-related illness.

Even being out in short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems.

• Drink plenty of water throughout the day to replace lost fluids.

• Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, especially in the heat. These actually cause you to lose more body fluid.

• Take breaks often. Try to rest in shady areas so that your body's thermostat will have a chance to recover.

• Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness, including extremely high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness.

• Watch people who are at higher risk for heat-related illness, including infants and children up to four years of age; people 65 years of age or older; people who are overweight; people who push themselves too hard during work or exercise; and people who are physically ill or who take certain medications (i.e. for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation).

• Eat healthy foods to help keep you energized.

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