Spring is officially here and homes across North America are in need of a deep clean. Unfortunately, all that lifting, climbing, trimming and other spring cleaning heightens the risk for home injuries. Yet, according to a new survey by the national nonprofit Home Safety Council, only six per cent of adults recognize the increased risk for home injuries during the spring as compared with other seasons, leaving the vast majority of people in danger of injuries.

Simple chores such as cleaning out cabinets, washing windows and re-organizing garages and closets bring added risks from falls and poisonings — two of the leading causes of home-related injury and death.

“Climbing ladders, piling clutter on the floor and using household cleaners and chemicals are just a few examples of risky spring cleaning work. They may sound harmless, but these common activities are associated with thousands of falls and accidental poisoning injuries each year,” said Meri-K Appy, Home Safety Council president. “There's no need to give up spring cleaning. Simply being aware of the dangers and taking simple steps to spring clean safely can prevent an injury.”

Follow the Home Safety Council's advice to make sure this year's spring cleaning ritual is uneventful:

• When cleaning out closets, always keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear of clutter.

• Carry loads you can see over, and keep one hand free to hold banisters and railings.

• Five gallon buckets present a serious drowning danger to young children. Never leave a bucket or any standing water unattended and store buckets upside-down so water can’t collect in them.

• Read product labels carefully and follow safety recommendations when using harsh products. These may include wearing gloves and masks.

• Do not mix products together because their contents could react with dangerous results.

• Never use gasoline as a cleaning solvent and never use or store gasoline in your home. Because its vapours can readily ignite, it is too dangerous to use gasoline for any purpose other than as a motor fuel.

• When cleaning out cabinets, separate dangerous products and medications and lock them up, out of reach of young children. Look on the label for the words “Caution, Warning, Danger, Poison, or Keep out reach of children” and lock up these products if young children live in or visit your home.

• Make sure clutter is removed from stairs and steps and kept out of walkways. Safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords to prevent tripping. In homes with children, make sure toys are put away when not in use.

• If you need to climb, use a stepladder or ladder. When using a ladder, stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top. Keep your body centred at all times, with three points of contact (two feet on the rungs and one hand on the handle or step to steady you).

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