Protect the Garden Warrior |

Protect the Garden Warrior |

Take a close look at your fellow gardeners. Hands covered with thick gloves, supported by cool fabric in summer and topped with warm, waterproof palms in winter. Sturdy shoes ready to drive the shovels deep into the earth. Armed with a gardening apron or plenty of pockets containing sharp Felco secateurs, a hori hori knife and a three-pronged hoe. A large quiver-like bucket filled with loppers, a handsaw, and an ax. Add a garden hat that repels the sun, wind and rain that covers you like a helmet. A face covered in dirt resembling war paint or streaked with sweat or tears. He’s a garden warrior.

There are times when it comes to being a Garden Warrior that can get dangerous. Each profession has its slogans; for emergency medical services (EMS) there are many. Here is an ambulance favorite, “You fall, we carry”. Another, “When in danger or in doubt, take a helicopter and fly them.” Ringing your bell while getting knocked out by a falling limb can earn you a ride with the paramedics. Common sense and some home first aid can save you that ride with lights and sirens.

Many garden accidents can be treated at home. Who hasn’t used their secateurs and cut their femoral artery? Wait, stop! Femoral artery, call the doctors! However, a small cut in your skin is controllable. The extent of your injury is determined by the color of the blood and how quickly it comes out of the wound. The smallest blood vessels are capillaries that will flow and stop on their own with slight pressure.

If the wound is a gash with slight bleeding, here’s what to do. Wash your hands and, if you are helping someone else, put on gloves. Rinse the wound with water, cover the wound with a clean gauze or cloth, and apply direct pressure to stop blood flow and promote clotting. If possible, elevate the part of the body that is bleeding. Add extra tissue if the blood gets in; keep the original tissue in place for coagulation. Once the bleeding has stopped, apply a new bandage. If you find that the bleeding continues, it is time to see a professional.

So… examining your biceps in the mirror this morning leads you to conclude that a 24 inch boxwood is completely mobile on your own. A freshly watered eight foot tree in the bed of your pickup truck can be overwhelming on every muscle, ligament, and joint in your body. A sprain can be caused by a twist, pull, or lift that injures ligaments or muscles. Often, sprains do not require emergency treatment. It is time to see a doctor if the pain is severe, if there is an inability to bear the weight on the injured body part, if you notice an increase in bruising or no improvement in the coming week.

When your body tells you it’s in pain, start first aid. Leave the tree and the box in your driveway. Moving it around the yard will only make matters worse. Stop moving the sprained limb, apply a cold compress, elevate the injured area if possible, and use NSAIDs for pain relief. A convenient way to remember how to treat a sprain is RICE or rest, ice, squeeze and elevation.

Many insects and birds find attacking Garden Warriors fun or tactical. Groups that often vibrate their sabers for gardeners include bees and wasps. Bee stings are painful for some, fatal for others. If you get stung, get the sting out as quickly as possible. This will prevent the extra venom from entering the body. Wash the area with soap and water. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling by wrapping it in a clean towel. Use an antihistamine (allergy medicine) to reduce swelling and itching. If in pain, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you are allergic to bee stings, seek professional help immediately.

Being prepared for an emergency means you have the knowledge to deal with the situation, tools like a comprehensive first aid kit, and the common sense to call for help when needed. Daily first aid knowledge is available from the Red Cross, many books, including the Boy Scout Manual, and well-known sites on the Internet.

The best way to deal with gardening mishaps is to have common sense in one of your garden warrior pockets and plenty of band-aids in the other.

Julie Silva is a Cooperative Extension Master Gardener at the University of California in Tuolumne County (in fact, she lives in Stanislaus County, but received her training in Tuolumne County).

The master gardeners at UCCE Central Sierra can answer questions about home gardening. Call 209-533-5912 in Tuolumne County, 209-754-2880 in Calaveras County, or complete our easy-to-use problem questionnaire here. Visit our website here. You can also find us on Facebook.


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