Gardening Health and Safety Tips
Gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get physical activity,
beautify the community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables. Whether
you are a beginner or expert gardener, health and safety are always important.
Below are some tips to help keep you safe and healthy so that you can
enjoy the beauty and bounty gardening can bring.
Gear up to protect yourself from lawn and garden pests, harmful chemicals,
sharp or motorized equipment, insects, and harmful rays of too much
- Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants when using lawn mowers
and other machinery.
- Protect your hearing when using machinery. If you have to raise your voice
to talk to someone who is an arm's length away, the noise can be potentially
harmful to your hearing.
- 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 long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked in
your socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots since ticks are usually
located close to the ground.
- Lower your risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear long sleeves, wide-brimmed
hats, sun shades, and sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
Spring and Summer Outdoor Safety
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
Prevention and Control
Know your limits in the heat.
Even being out for short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Monitor your activities and time in the sun to lower your risk for heat-related illness.
- If you’re outside in hot weather for most of the day you’ll need to make an effort to drink more 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 shaded areas so that your
body's thermostat will have a chance to recover. Stop working
if you experience breathlessness or muscle soreness.
- 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.
Keep Your Cool
in Hot Weather
Persons with disabilities and physical activity.
Talk to your health care provider if you have physical, mental, or
environmental concerns that may impair your ability to work in
the garden safely.
- If you have arthritis, use tools that are easy to grasp and
that fit your ability. Research shows that 2½ hours
per week of moderate physical activity can give you more energy
and can help relieve arthritis pain and stiffness.
- If you are taking medications that may make you drowsy or impair
your judgment or reaction time, don’t operate machinery,
climb ladders, or do activities that may increase your risk for
- Listen to your body. Monitor your heart rate, level of fatigue,
and physical discomfort.
- Call 911 if you get injured, experience chest and arm pain,
dizziness, lightheadedness, or heat-related illness.
Frequently Asked Questions - General Public
Tips for Everyone (Arthritis Foundation)
Enjoy the benefits of physical activity.
Gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity. Active people
are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high
blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease,
stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.
- Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities
that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen
your muscles. You can burn 150 calories by gardening (standing)
for approximately 30-45 minutes. Help kids and teens be active
for at least 1 hour a day.
- If you have been inactive, start out with just a few minutes
of physical activity each day. Gradually build up time and intensity.
- Vary your gardening activities to keep your interest and to
broaden the range of benefits.
Activity and Health
Vaccinations can prevent many diseases and save lives. All adults
should get a tetanus vaccination every 10 years. Tetanus lives
in the soil and enters the body through breaks in the skin. Because
gardeners use sharp tools, dig in the dirt, and handle plants
with sharp points, they are particularly prone to tetanus infections.
- Before you start gardening this season, make sure your tetanus/diphtheria
(Td) vaccination is up to date.
- Ask your health care provider if you need any other vaccinations.
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Content Source: CDC Office
of Women's Health
Page last modified:
April 3, 2013
Page last reviewed: April 3, 2013