Michigan Association of Health Plans

Make this spring a safe one

This story appeared on the Mayo Clinic’s Hometown Health blog. Read more here

Spring has sprung. Well, at least it’s trying. Spring in the Midwest is lovely, but it’s important to keep safety in mind as the weather warms and outdoor activities resume. Nothing can ruin a beautiful spring day like an accident, so remember these tips as you head out:

Stinging insects
The bugs are back, and a sting can cause an allergic reaction. If you’re stung, remove the stinger with a quick scrape of a fingernail or credit card edge. Treat reactions, such as redness, swelling, itching or discomfort near the site of the sting, with cold compresses and antihistamines.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, swelling of your tongue, a hoarse voice, dizziness, nausea or a loss of consciousness.

Spring is the perfect time to clear your yard and landscaping of winter debris. Remember to wear gloves, goggles, sturdy shoes and long pants, especially around machinery.

Use hearing protection when operating machinery. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone an arm’s length away, the equipment noise can harm your hearing.

Sun safety
The sun’s rays in the spring can be surprisingly intense, especially if you’ve been indoors for most of the winter. When outside, remember to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, which should be SPF 30 or higher.

With the warmer weather, sun and outdoor activities, also comes the risk of dehydration leading to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. So drink plenty of water and find shade on those warm days.

Smoke detectors
The start of daylight saving time is a good reminder to change the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors. You should have a detector in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on each floor of the house, including the basement. Swap out the batteries and test your smoke detectors when you move your clocks ahead one hour.

Spring cleaning
You may feel motivated to clear some clutter or look for ways to make your house safer to navigate.

Keep these strategies in mind when cleaning to help avoid slips and falls:

  • Remove clutter.
    Extra boxes, cords and rugs should be stored in a safe place. All of these and more are fall hazards. Keep your house — inside and out — well-lit. Dark rooms and areas pose greater risks than spaces with adequate lighting.
  • Use support as needed.
    If you walk with a cane or walker, make sure you use it. Also use hand railings, seating and nonslip treads throughout your home. Don’t forget to include your bathroom and shower area.

Household chemicals on shelves, benches and countertops are another common, overlooked danger in the home. Be sure to: 

  • Store chemicals in original containers. If that’s not an option, clearly label the bottle or can.
  • Keep cleaners and other toxins out of the reach of children.
  • Read warning labels.
  • Follow safety instructions.
  • Have the Poison Control Centers phone number available: 1-800-222-1222.
  • Properly dispose of expired, leaking or contaminated chemicals.
  • Don’t combine chemicals.
  • Be diligent about hand-washing after using cleaners and other chemicals.

Medication safety
It’s a good time to evaluate medications in your home. Always keep your medications in their original containers, except for those you place in a daily pill box. Use a pill box to help you take your medications as directed, and always store medication in a safe place.

Never take another person’s medication, share yours, or take more or less of a medication than directed. Appropriately dispose of unused or unneeded controlled substances and all old medications.