How to avoid injury while working outside this spring

The official start of spring is only a week away, which means Four Corners area residents will soon be venturing out into yards, gardens, and pastures to prepare for the growing season.

These outdoor activities are satisfying on so many levels, and provide an opportunity for exercise and fresh air after being cooped up during the winter months. But they also can land you right back inside the house if you’re not careful. Follow these commonsense safety tips as you enjoy working outdoors this spring.

Make sure your equipment is in good working order. Be extra careful when sharpening blades or working on equipment.

Dress for the job. Wear sturdy shoes and long pants when using mowers, tillers, weed eaters, and other power machinery.

Wear protective goggles when using power equipment and when performing tasks such as trimming hedges and trees using manual tools. Eye injuries are in the top five when it comes to what sends people to the emergency room. Don’t risk your eyesight by thinking, “It won’t happen to me.”

Protect your hearing with earplugs or a noise-cancelling headset when using power equipment.

Avoid back strain by being conscious about how you lift and move heavy objects. When lifting, start with your feed wide apart, bend down using your hips and knees, maintain steady shoulders and back, lift slowly, keep the object as close to your body as possible, don’t twist or turn, take small steps, and put the object down slowly. Many injuries occur because we’re in a hurry or not paying attention. When in doubt, ask for help.

Read labels when using herbicides and pesticides and follow safety guidelines from the product manufacturer. This might include wearing gloves, using a mask or respirator, or washing your work clothes separately when the task is done.

Wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat when working outside, and drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated.

Never let children use herbicides or pesticides, operate power equipment, or use sharp tools. Always supervise children when they’re helping.

Health care career scholarships available

The Southwest Memorial Hospital Foundation is accepting applicants for its 2014 health care career scholarships. Annual recipients are selected based on qualifications and availability of funding. Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $2,000 each, and strong competition is anticipated.

To be eligible, applicants must have chosen health care as a career, finished prerequisites for the Fall school year by June 1, 2014, maintained satisfactory progress in school work, and be a resident of Montezuma or Dolores counties. Applicants are required to complete an application, write a letter describing career plans and goals, past education, work and life experiences, provide three letters of reference, submit verification of grades, and be available for a personal interview.

Applications are available at the front desk at Southwest Memorial Hospital, the Foundation office in Room 30 in the Administrative Hall at the hospital, at local high school guidance offices, and may be downloaded at Applications will be accepted through March 31. Contact Susan Thomas at 564-2156 or for more information.

Health fairs

The 9 Health Fairs are right around the corner. Mark your calendar to take advantage of this health service. You can go to Dove Creek High School on April 5, Mancos Valley High School on April 19, or the Cortez Recreation Center on April 19. All of these are Saturdays and all fairs run from 7 a.m. until 12 noon. You can register online (and get your test results online) by going to

Free screenings at the fairs include blood pressure checks, heart health screening, breast exams, vision and hearing screening, body mass index measurement, balance assessment, sleep apnea assessment, spinal alignment evaluation, nutrition screening, and more. Low-cost screenings include blood chemistry, PSA, blood count, vitamin D, blood sugar and a take-home colon cancer screening kit. If you are having blood drawn for any of the low-cost screenings, do not eat anything or drink beverages that contain sugar or cream for 12 hours before blood draw. Diabetics should not fast. Drinking plenty of water and staying warm will make your blood draw easier.

For more information or questions, go to or call Todd Parisi at 739-5654 (Dove Creek), Deana Yeomans at 749-3088 (Mancos) or Robyn Bragg at 564-2243 (Cortez).

Diabetes support group meets regularly

A support group for those with diabetes meets on the first Wednesday of every month from 3:30 – 5 p.m. in the Diabetes Education Room at Southwest Memorial Hospital (South Campus Building). Learn how to manage diabetes and share ideas at these informative, informal meetings. Sessions are free and open to anyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Contact Michael Dohn, RN, CDE, at 564-2352 for details.

Southwest Health Notes Health News Round Up is provided by Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez. Information is not intended as patient-specific medical advice or as a substitute with a health care provider.