NEWS | May 17, 2011

Beautification projects safety tips

By Joint Base Charleston Safety Office

It's the perfect location for a party: outdoors. Nature provides decorations in the form of plants and flowers in every color of the rainbow and the birds provide the music. As the temperature rises, our world changes before our eyes. It's springtime in the Lowcountry.

One of our traditional rites of spring is involvement in beautification projects which can be as simple as hanging a basket of flowers on the front porch and planting a flower garden in the yard, or as complex as a community wide Earth Day celebration. This is the time of year when we attempt to make our world a prettier and cleaner place, volunteer to clean our parks and highway right-of-ways, plant community vegetable and flower gardens, and we pick up litter in our neighborhoods and around community ponds. If we can't actively participate, we admire the results of the volunteers' labor.

While working outside, it's important to keep safety in mind. Begin by showing up prepared to work outdoors and consider the following safety tips:

Clothing and supplies: To avoid sunburn, wear sunscreen, a hat and light colored clothing.
Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry that can get snagged on brush or equipment. Wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves to avoid scratches and briars and wear appropriate shoes. If you're working near a road or highway, always wear a safety vest.

Protect your body: Warm up with light stretches before heavy lifting and work. To avoid back injury, lift heavy items properly-with your legs not your back. Get help if you need it.

Breaks: To avoid overexertion, take frequent rest breaks and drink plenty of water.

Teamwork: Always stay with at least one other person or a group of people during large scale beautification activities.

Be aware of your surroundings: Watch your footing and stay away from steep slopes. Be aware of automobile traffic.

Learn to identify poison ivy, oak, and sumac: If you come into contact with them, wash the area with water or alcohol. Clean tools and clothing before using them again.

Stay alert: Be aware there may be snakes or other creatures in the brushy areas where you will be working.

First Aid: Every group should have a first aid kit in its possession and should formulate a plan in case of an emergency.

Do not compact or stuff trash into trash bags. Injuries may occur from broken glass or jagged objects.

Do not pick up materials that could be potentially hazardous such as guns, needles, knives or drug paraphernalia. Call 911 if you find these materials.

Do not pick up containers with unidentifiable contents. If found off base, the South Carolina Department of Health Environmental Control will need to be called to properly dispose of these types of items.

Do not allow anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to participate in a litter cleanup.